SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A rash of turnovers in the first half put Eastern Washington in a hole and cold shooting in the second half finished off the Eagles in an 84-49 loss to Big Sky Conference rival Sacramento State on Monday night in the second round of the Women’s NIT.
Eight turnovers led to a 16-0 run and 17-point lead for the Hornets midway through the first half.
The Eagles got within 38-28 at the break but they shot just 23.8 percent in the second half while the Hornets shot 54.5 percent to turn the game into a rout.
Sacramento State (18-15) is home against Saint Mary’s (22-10), an 83-64 winner over Fresno State, on Thursday in the third round. The Hornets are participating in the postseason for the first time.
EWU finishes one of its most successful seasons at 21-12. The Eagles tied the 1983-84 team for most wins and picked up their first postseason victory other than the conference tournament when they won 67-65 at Washington State on Wednesday in the first round of the WNIT.
Eastern and Sac State had split during the Big Sky Conference season, each winning on the road. The Eagles lost the first meeting 73-67 and won the second 80-79.
Lexie Nelson led the Eagles on Monday with 12 points.
Takara Burse had 17 points and Margaret Huntington had 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Hornets, who outrebounded the Eagles 51-34.
A layup by Hayley Hodgins, who had 10 points, made it 7-6 for the Hornets at 14:35 of the first half, but the Eagles didn’t score again until a basket by Delaney Hodgins, who had 11 points, at 8:43. In that time, Andrea Chenier hit three of her four 3-pointers while EWU was 0 of 5 with eight turnovers. Fantasia Hilliard – who had nine assists, one more than the Eagles – hit four free throws during the stretch for the Hornets.
Melissa Williams had 10 points for Eastern.
Eastern finished with a season-high 33 turnovers, which Sac State turned into 41 points. The Hornets were also 9 of 29 from behind the arc while EWU was 3 of 14.
The Sacramento State bench outscored the Eastern Washington reserves 38-2.
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