Grand Forks, N.D. – Cold shooting and a lack of rebounding doomed the Eastern Washington women's basketball team as host North Dakota cruised to a 82-60 victory Thursday, Jan. 30, in a Big Sky counter at the Betty Engelstad Center.
Eastern (8-10, 4-5 Big Sky) shot just 33.3 percent from the field for the game, its lowest output of the season. The Eagles connected on just 23.5 percent of their shots in the second half and were an uncharacteristic 3-of-16 from three-point range on the night.
North Dakota (13-6, 8-2 BSC) knocked down 50 percent of its shots after hitting at a 57.1-percent clip in the first half. UND shot just 35.3 percent in the second stanza as Eastern locked down defensively.
"We just did not shoot it well tonight," head coach Wendy Schuller said. "We didn't bring enough intensity defensively in the first half, but I thought we played as well as we have all season on that end in the second half. We were creating turnovers and forcing tough shots, but just could not get anything to go offensively, which is frustrating when you're playing that well defensively."
Despite the large number of second chance opportunities, EWU was limited to just 12 offensive rebounds as North Dakota outrebounded the Eagles, 52-25, for the game. UND pulled down 17 offensive rebounds, securing nearly half its missed shots.
Senior Laura Hughes led the Eagles with 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting, knocking down her first five shots from the field.
Senior Aubrey Ashenfelter and sophomore Hayley Hodgins added 10 points apiece while juniorLexie Nelson saw her double-digit scoring streak end at 16 games after chipping in nine points.
Freshman Bethany Montgomery added eight points off the bench in 13 minutes of action.
It was a back-and-forth affair in the early going as the first nine minutes of the contest saw three ties and 11 lead changes. Montgomery's lay-up brought the Eagles to within one, 24-23, with 9:33 on the clock, but the hosts exploded for a 19-5 run over the next 6:30 to take a 43-28 lead late in the half.
A jumper from freshman Marly Anderson stopped the run before a lay-up from Ashenfelter and a free throw from Nelson saw the Eagles pull to within 10, 43-33, at the 1:12 mark. North Dakota would score the final five points of the half, however, to take a 48-33 lead into the locker room.
UND held the Eagles without a field goal for the first 3:30 of the second half, expanding its lead to 20, 54-34, before Hughes converted a fade-away jumper inside with 16:33 on the clock. Eastern would continue to be cold from the field, however, making just two field goals over the next six minutes. Despite its offensive struggles, the Eagles maintained a level of intensity on the defensive end, keeping North Dakota within striking distance.
Nelson's triple at the 10:16 mark brought EWU to within 15, 60-45, for the first time since early in the half. Just as it seemed Eastern was poised for a run, North Dakota answered with an 8-2 spurt over the next five minutes to take a 68-47 lead and put the game out of reach.
UND would knock down 12 free throws in the final five minutes of the second half to keep the Eagles at bay the rest of the way.
Eastern committed 15 turnovers to North Dakota's 26 miscues. UND converted the Eagles' mistakes into 19 points while EWU scored just 14 points off turnovers.
North Dakota saw five players reach double figures, led by Mia Loyd's 16 points. Madi Buck finished with a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Eastern wraps up its three-game road trip at Northern Colorado on Saturday, Feb. 1. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. PST.