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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eastern women top Weber St.

For more than 30 minutes the Eastern Washington women’s basketball team showed it was capable of competing for the Big Sky championship.

For the final 8:16 the Eagles were anything but championship caliber.

But because they lost only 11 of their 13-point lead in the frantic finish, the Eagles are still in position to be champions after ending Weber State’s six-game winning streak with a 63-61 win at Reese Court Saturday afternoon.

“I’m just so proud of our effort,” EWU coach Wendy Schuller said. “We wanted to win this game so badly. You’re going to make mistakes but effort wins games.”

The Eagles (11-5, 3-0) were up 56-43 with 8:16 to play when Raelynn Chaffee finished off a flourish of five offensive rebounds. From that point on, they attempted only one late shot at the end of a 30-second clock, had eight turnovers and converted just 7 of 13 free throws.

“We freaked out,” said Eastern post Felice Moore, who had 14 points and eight rebounds. “We need to just relax, believe in ourselves and stay calm. It’s big, but it’s not our season. There’s a long road ahead.”

Even with the late collapse at the foul line, Eastern finished 15 of 23 for 65 percent, better than the team average. They had 20 turnovers.

“If we make free throws down the stretch it’s not a game,” Schuller said. “We’re not a good free-throw shooting team; we have to be better.”

The Wildcats (12-5, 3-1) kept chipping away, despite missing a couple foul shots of their own, and had a chance to win when Big Sky scoring leader Julie Gjertsen hoisted a 3 from the top of the key just before the final buzzer.

“They started pressing us and then I thought they let the game get extremely physical on the perimeter where it hadn’t been physical all night,” Schuller said. “That created some turnovers and we didn’t attack as much as we should have offensively.”

Eastern’s finish was a lot like the start Weber had in the second half when the Wildcats made just six free throws before a Gjertsen drive and bucket at the 12:02 mark, making it 49-37. During that time Weber coach Carla Taylor received a technical foul that Stephanie Ulmer, who led the Eagles with 17 points, converted for a 47-33 lead at 14:05.

The Eagles eased out to a 33-29 lead at half, thanks to Moore and their ability to keep Gjertsen under control.

Moore scored eight straight points after the Eagles got off to a little bit of a slow start.

Gjertsen was held to five points and she picked up her third foul with 5:52 left before halftime. However, freshman Sara Tuomi proceeded to hit consecutive 3-pointers to give WSU a five-point lead. The Eagles got that back when Ulmer, Joanna Chad and freshman Ashley Knight hit consecutive 3-pointers.

Gjertsen stretched her streak of double-figure games to 35 but she had just 10 points, making 3 of 11 shots and 3 of 5 free throws, as Brandi Bounds and Ashley Jamison did most of the defensive work. Sophomore post Becky O’Neil led the Wildcats with 22 points.

E. Washington 63, Weber State 61

Weber State (12-5, 3-1)–Tuomi 4-10 3-4 13, Hansen 3-4 1-2 7, O’Neil 8-14 6-8 22, Gjertsen 3-11 3-5 10, Porter 0-3 0-0 0, Warburton 0-7 2-2 2, Robertson 1-3 2-3 5, Ricks 0-1 0-0 0, Nelson 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 20-54 17-24 61.

Eastern Washington (11-5, 3-0)–Bounds 3-8 0-1 6, Chicane 0-2 0-0 0, Moore 4-8 6-8 14, Chadd 3-6 3-4 11, Ulmer 4-8 6-10 17, Jamison 0-0 0-0 0, Knight 1-3 0-0 3, Chaffee 2-4 0-0 4, Page 4-11 0-0 8. Totals 21-50 15-23 63.

Halftime–Eastern Washington 63, Weber State 61. 3-point goals–Weber State 4-14 (Tuomi 2-4, Gjertsen 1-3, Robertson 1-3, Porter 0-1, Warburton 0-3), Eastern Washington 6-12 (Ulmer 3-5, Chadd 2-4, Knight 1-2, Bounds 0-1). Fouled out–none. Rebounds–Weber State 32 (O’Neil 8), Eastern Washington 38 (Moore, Page 8). Assists–Weber State 14 (Porter 7), Eastern Washington 13 (Bounds, Ulmer 3). Total fouls–Weber State 19, Eastern Washington 21. A–952.

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