Flagstaff, Ariz. – The Eastern Washington women's basketball team saw its four-game winning streak come to an end Saturday, Feb. 15, falling at Northern Arizona, 86-78, in a Big Sky contest at the Skydome.
Eastern (12-11, 8-6 Big Sky) led by as many as nine in the first half but Northern Arizona (8-15, 5-9 BSC) knocked down a pair of free throws to take a two-point lead into halftime, igniting a run that gave the hosts a 10-point advantage, 50-40, with 15 minutes left.
The Eagles would pull to within four twice in the second stanza but the Lumberjacks had an answer for every EWU run down the stretch, making key plays to keep Eastern at bay.
"I thought we played reactionary tonight instead of anticipating," head coach Wendy Schuller said.
"We didn't shoot the ball well, and everytime we got into a rhythm, a foul by either team would slow the game down and break up our rhythm."
Redshirt sophomore Hayley Hodgins led five Eagles in double figures with 22 points, going 10-of-11 from the free throw line. Junior Lexie Nelson went for 14 points while senior Aubrey Ashenfelter added 13 points.
Freshman Jade Redmon and senior Laura Hughes chipped in 10 points apiece.
Ashenfelter and Redmon led EWU with six rebounds apiece while Redmon dished out a season-best seven assists compared to just two turnovers.
EWU shot 45.5 percent in the first half, including 57.1 percent from long range. The second half was a different story, however, as the Eagles connected on just 35.7 percent of its shots from the field and 28.6 percent of its three-point attempts.
Northern Arizona shot a blistering 53.8 percent in the first half before dipping to a 41.4-percent clip in the second stanza. The Lumberjacks shot just 28.6 percent from long range for the game, making just two of nine attempts in the second half.
Both teams spent a fair share of time at the free throw line as the Eagles went 32-of-38 while NAU made 30 of its 36 attempts.
"The large numbers of free throws certainly broke up the flow of the game," Schuller said. "I was concerned about our legs and how much we had in the tank, and the fouls stretched our depth."
Nelson buried a three-pointer to get Eastern on the board less than one minute into the game before the hosts reeled off four straight points to take a 4-3 lead at the 17:22 mark. A bucket from Redmon put EWU back on top, igniting a 19-9 run over the next six minutes that gave the Eagles a nine-point advantage, 22-13.
NAU would cut Eastern's lead to three, 26-23, at the 6:23 mark on a lay-up from Erikka Banks before a jumper from Catelyn Preston gave the Lumberjacks a 29-28 lead with 4:15 remaining. Hughes put the Eagles back on top, converting inside on their next possession. Nelson added a pair of free throws and freshman Bethany Montgomery banged in a three-pointer to spot EWU a five-point lead, 35-30, with 2:30 on the clock.
The hosts answered with five straight points over the next two minutes, forcing head coach Wendy Schuller to call timeout. Montgomery turned it over out of the timeout, and NAU's Amanda Frost made two free throws with three seconds left to give the Lumberjacks a 37-35 halftime lead.
The Lumberjacks extended their lead to five, 43-38, early in the second half after Raven Anderson converted a three-point play. Down 10, 50-40, at the 15:14 mark, Hodgins finished inside to give Eastern its first field goal of the second half, stopping a 6-0 NAU run.
After a lay-up from Banks put Northern Arizona up eight, 52-44, two free throws apiece from
Hodgins and Nelson brought EWU to within four, 52-48, with 12:58 remaining. The Lumberjacks answered with a quick run to regain a nine-point advantage, 61-52, at the 9:59 mark, but Eastern again cut the deficit to four, 61-57, two minutes later after Montgomery and Redmon buried a pair of free throws.
Down nine, 67-58, with a little more than five minutes left, two free throws from Hughes and a jumper from Nelson brought EWU to within five, 67-62, at the 4:56 mark. Eastern would get no closer, however, as the Lumberjacks' lead ballooned to as many as 13 down the stretch.
The Lumberjacks outrebounded the Eagles, 38-31, and both teams finished with 11 second chance points. NAU turned the ball over 20 times to the tune of 25 EWU points while Eastern committed 17 turnovers resulting in 21 points for the Lumberjacks.
Banks led all scorers with 31 points, going 17-of-19 from the free throw line and 7-of-13 from the field.
Eastern returns home for a single game next week, hosting league foe Southern Utah on Thursday, Feb. 20. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.