RENO, Nev. – The Eastern Washington women’s struggles on the court are yesterday’s news.
Then again, so is the Eagles’ dominating win over Idaho in Wednesday’s Big Sky Conference tournament quarterfinal.
It’s time to move on, mentally and physically, toward Friday’s semifinal against top-seeded Montana State. Tipoff is at 12:35 p.m. at Reno Events Center.
“We’ll be ready,” EWU coach Wendy Schuller said after the Eagles returned to midseason form in a wire-to-wire 73-64 win over the defending champion Vandals.
The Eagles (18-12) had lost three of seven before that, including a home-court loss to last-place Southern Utah last week.
“We struggled at the end of the year in conference play,” said forward Delaney Hodgins, who scored 23 points on Wednesday.
“I think we have to move without the ball, and share the ball – we did that in this game, and we need to continue to do that.”
The challenge gets bigger against a 23-6 Bobcats team that swept the Eagles this year and has Big Sky Player of the Year Peyton Ferris, a senior forward who averages 17.9 points and 7.4 rebounds.
In their first meeting, on Jan. 5 in Bozeman, the Eagles gave up 30 points to Ferris yet took the Bobcats to overtime before losing 88-83.
“That was a game we should have finished and won, and hopefully we learned some lessons from that,” Schuller said.
The Eagles clamped down on Ferris in the return game three weeks later in Cheney. She scored just seven points, but MSU guard Hannah Caudill went off for 28 points and seven assists in a 72-61 win.
“They’re a great basketball team that’s hard to handle and they play extremely hard,” said Schuller, who has reached the semifinals three straight years.
The winner will play sixth-seeded Idaho State (18-13) or seventh-seeded Portland State (16-16) in the title game on Saturday.
Portland State knocked out second-seeded North Dakota 65-62 during Wednesday’s quarterfinals. In the late game that night, Idaho State eliminated third-seeded Northern Colorado 60-59.
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