While the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks bounced back from a rough start from the field, the Eastern Washington Eagles never slowed down.
Hitting 71.4 percent in the second quarter, the Eagles (17-13, 12-6 Big Sky) entered halftime with a 16-point lead as the conference’s second-leading scorer Delaney Hodgins went to work. Scoring 26 in the first half and finishing with 46, Hodgins led the Eagles to a 98-83 victory over the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks (7-22, 4-14) Friday night in the Walkup Skydome.
Eastern Washington locked up the Big Sky’s No. 3 seed at next week’s conference tournament in Reno, Nevada, while Northern Arizona missed a chance at jumping up as high as ninth and settled for the No. 11 seed.
The Lumberjacks will face the Portland State Vikings at 8 p.m. on Monday.
“Obviously Hodgins is one of, if not the best players in the league and she had a career night,” said Lumberjacks head coach Loree Payne. “To shoot 7 for 7 from 3, that's tough to stop on any night. Hats off to her and Eastern, they played really well tonight.”
Hodgins started rolling from the outset, hitting three 3-pointers in the game’s opening five minutes. Entering the day with 21.8 points per game, second-best among Big Sky players, Hodgins accounted for 15 of Eastern Washington’s 35 first-half shots, scoring 12 points in the final 5:29 before the break.
The senior finished 16 of 23 from the field, including a perfect 7 of 7 from 3-point range, as she broke the Big Sky Conference’s record for points in a game.
“I felt like we contested Hodgins' shots, she was just on fire,” Payne said. “She was in that zone that athletes get in. It definitely made for a fun, entertaining game.”
Northern Arizona’s Kenna McDavis did her best to keep pace, hitting three 3s in the second quarter and finishing the first half with 18 points. The senior finished her Lumberjacks Senior Night with 39 points, a career-high and just two off the previous Big Sky record of 41, hitting 12 of 18 from the field including 8 of 12 from beyond the arc.
“Kenna played ridiculous, she was on fire,” Payne said. “She broke her record which is awesome, super proud of her. It's just great to have moments to be able to celebrate them.”
Eastern Washington’s lead fell under double digits for less than a minute after the first quarter, and reached as high as 25 in the third.
After shooting 35.7 percent from the field in the first quarter, Northern Arizona bounced back to finish at 50 percent in the second quarter and 46.7 percent in the third quarter. Meanwhile Eastern Washington followed its 71.4 percent second quarter with a 53.5 percent third and 61.5 percent fourth, finishing well ahead of their season averages of 41.0 percent and 66.4 points.
While its defense struggled to slow down Hodgins, as well as Violet Kapri Morrow, who added 23 for the Eagles, the Lumberjacks offense kept control of the ball. Averaging 16 turnovers per game, Northern Arizona committed just nine against Eastern Washington.
Also finishing even on the boards with 35, the Lumberjacks attempted one more shot than the Eagles while adding six more attempts from the free-throw line.
“Turnovers have been a part of some of our losses, so tonight to only have nine was critical for us to be able to have a chance to win,” Payne said.
Olivia Lucero added nine points in her final home game for Northern Arizona, while fellow senior Chelena Betoney connected on a 3 in her seven minutes. Kaleigh Paplow hit 6 of 12 from the field to add 13 points while leading the Lumberjacks with seven rebounds. Lauren Orndoff missed the game with an injury, as she was on crutches while on the bench, helping lead to a 38-minute night for McDavis and 37 minutes by Paplow.
The Lumberjacks head right to Reno for Monday’s first-round game against the Vikings, just nine days after the teams faced off in Portland, ending with a 68-59 victory for Portland State.