RENO, Nevada – The race is on at the Big Sky Conference women’s basketball tournament, and Eastern Washington doesn’t intend to be left behind.
The Eagles came away from Monday’s first-round games with an even keener appreciation for the next opponent, after Sacramento State set several conference records in a 102-89 win over Southern Utah.
The second-seeded Eagles and No. 7 Hornets will meet in a quarterfinal game Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at the Reno Events Center, a matchup that will test Eastern’s endurance as well as its shooting.
“We have a few challenges in defending them,” EWU coach Wendy Schuller said after watching the Hornets set tournament records for points, shots (96) and combined points.
In addition, the Hornets like to rotate five players at once, which leads to a racehorse tempo on offense and defense.
“Their personnel is going to stay fresher than ours, but we’ve got kids who are in great shape and understand their bodies and their conditioning,” Schuller said.
The Eagles (19-11 overall, 13-5 in the Big Sky) also know that Sac State can beat anyone in what’s become a wide-open conference. The Hornets are the only conference opponent to win at Reese Court this year, and they also ended the Eagles’ season last year in the second round of the Women’s NIT.
Eastern beat Sac State in their first meeting, but lost at home by a 91-84 score that should resemble Wednesday’s game. In that game, the Hornets put up 51 3-point shots and made 18.
“It’s their goal to shoot 50 threes. We need to contest them and limit their threes – it’s not an easy thing to do,” Schulller said.
Sacramento State (13-16, 10-8) comes into Reno having won six of its last eight games. Eastern has lost four of its last six games
Vandals face Weber State
Six days after winning a key conference game against Weber State, the Idaho Vandals must do it again to advance to the semifinals.
Idaho faces the Wildcats at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Reno Events Center.
“We have to play good defense, because they do a good job shooting the ball,” said Idaho coach Jon Newlee after watching the Wildcats dispatch Portland State 91-68 in a first-round game Monday.
In that game, four Wildcats scored in double figures, with Yarden Danan getting 24 on 9-for-11 shooting.
Third-seeded Idaho (21-9 overall, 13-5 Big Sky) has won three straight over Weber, including a 77-70 win last week in Ogden, Utah, as Geraldine McCorkell scored 15 points.
Weber is only a No. 6 seed despite going 20-10 overall, pointing to the balance in the conference this year.
“There’s just no dominant team,” Newlee said.
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