WOMEN’S BASKETBALL CAN’T OVERCOME SLOW START IN 72-65 LOSS TO EASTERN WASHINGTON

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL CAN’T OVERCOME SLOW START IN 72-65 LOSS TO EASTERN WASHINGTON

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Sacramento State scored just 22 points in the first half and, despite rallying to take the lead early in the third quarter, could not fully overcome a poor shooting start in a 72-65 loss on Thursday against Eastern Washington.

Sacramento State (8-12, 4-5 Big Sky) struggled through its lowest scoring half in more than three years but held the Eagles to 29 points in the half to stay within striking distance. After scoring just eight points in the second quarter, the Hornets started the second half on a 9-0 run to take a brief lead but would trail for the remainder of the game.

Eastern Washington (12-9, 7-3 Big Sky) overcame some early shooting trouble itself, firing at 16-of-30 (53%) in the second half. The Eagles led by as many as 12 points in the fourth quarter and the Hornets never got closer than a five-point deficit to end regulation time.

Junior Maranne Johnson score 12 of her team-high 14 points in the second half, including nine points in the fourth quarter. She brought her career point total to 998, needing just two more points to become the 13th 1,000-point scorer in program history and just the fifth to do so in just three seasons.

Senior Gretchen Harrigan chipped in 12 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals and senior Margaret Huntington had 15 rebounds and six points, recording her sixth game this season with 13 or more boards.

The Eagles led 16-14 at the end of the first quarter and outscored the Hornets 13-8 in the second as Sacramento State shot 3-of-17 overall and 0-of-8 from 3-point range in the period. The Hornets held EWU to just 35% shooting and forced six turnovers in the period, however, to trail just 29-22 at the intermission.

Sacramento State scored the first nine points of the second half behind a pair of 3-pointers from senior Brianna Burgos and a third from senior Ashlyn Crenshaw, putting the home team up 31-29 and prompting an Eastern Washington timeout just two minutes into the third quarter.

The Eagles answered back with an 8-0 run after the timeout, but the Hornets got back within a one-point deficit at 45-44 with 1:41 left in the quarter. EWU ended the half on a 7-1 run and led 60-48 with 5:21 to play. The Hornets got within five points on three occasions in the last minute and a half but the Eagles made five of their last six free throw attempts to finish the win.

Sacramento State was outrebounded 44-37 and forced 19 turnovers but had 15 of its own. Eagle junior Delaney Hodgins, the leading scorer in the Big Sky, had four of her team's eight blocks to go along with 22 points, nine rebounds, and five assists with no turnovers in 36 minutes played. Ashli Payne had 21 points and six rebounds and Tisha Phillips had 12 points and seven assists to lead the visitors.

The 22 points scored by Sacramento State in the first half was its fewest in a half since scoring 19 points in the second half at Idaho State on Jan. 30, 2014. The team put up 43 points in the second half but was matched by the Eagles as their seven-point halftime lead ended up also being the final margin.

Sacramento State hosts defending Big Sky champion Idaho at 2:05 p.m. Saturday in The Nest. The Vandals are 11-10 overall and 6-4 in league play after rallying from down 15 points to pick up a 72-66 win on Thursday at Portland State. Idaho hit 17 3-pointers in the game, including eight just in the second quarter.