RENO, Nev. – Eastern Washington’s Big Three became a quartet Wednesday, which made for a sweet performance.
Sweet revenge, too.
The Eagles spread the wealth, dominated the boards and made most of the big plays in a 73-64 win over Idaho that put them into the Big Sky Conference semifinals and erased a few unpleasant memories at the same time.
EWU coach Wendy Schuller looked at the big picture after knocking off the defending tournament champs at the Reno Events Center.
“Hopefully, this (tournament) is the culmination of all the lessons you’ve learned in the course of the season, and that lesson helped us today,” said Schuller, who faces top-seeded Montana State on Friday at 12:35 p.m.
They got there thanks to the Big Three – post players Delaney Hodgins and Ashli Payne, and point guard Tisha Phillips – but also got 15 points from hot-shooting Violet Kapri Morrow.
“They were gapping me and my teammates kept telling me to shoot, so I shot and they went in,” said Morrow, who was 3 for 4 from long range and also snagged five rebounds.
“She’s put a lot of time into become a great shooter for us, and this is where you want to see it pay off,” Schuller said of Morrow.
The fourth-seeded Eagles (18-12) went practically wire-to-wire, leading 15-8 after one quarter and by double digits for much of the second half.
Outrebounding the Vandals 49-34, Eastern stretched the advantage to 54-44 on a 3-pointer from Morrow at the end of the third.
Hodgins got three of her game-high 23 points on a layup and foul shot that put the game out of reach at 65-51 with 3:40 to play.
“I think we’re finally finding our groove,” Hodgins said. “We have to move the ball and share the ball and I think we did it.”
Phillips had a complete game on both ends of the floor. She handled the ball against Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year Karlee Wilson, scoring 19 points while shooting 50 percent.
At the other end, she guarded high-scoring Mikayla Ferenz, who scored 23 points but needed 20 shots to do it.
Idaho (16-14) had no other players in double figures, and was 9 for 31 from beyond the arc.
Coach Jon Newlee blamed a “lack of aggression” on the offensive end.
“I thought we came out flat offensively,” Newlee said.
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