EWU women win Big Sky title, headed to 1st NCAAs since ’87

Mar 13, 2024, 5:41 PM

EWU NCAA Tournament womens...

The court during an NCAA Tournament women's basketball game on March 24, 2023. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

(Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Spokane’s Jacinta Buckley had 20 points and 11 rebounds and the EWU Eagles’ record-breaking season continues with the school’s second NCAA berth after a 73-64 win over Northern Arizona in the Big Sky Conference Tournament championship game on Wednesday.

EWU Eagles 73, NAU Lumberjacks: Box score

The Eagles (29-5), who are riding a program record 13-game winning streak and set a record for most wins earlier, last made the Big Dance in 1987.

Eastern Washington did not lead until Jaleesa Lawrence made a layup to open the scoring in the fourth quarter to make it 50-48. Then the Eagles never trailed and got a clutch 3-pointer from Jaydia Martin (Vancouver, Wash.) with 51.2 seconds to go for a 70-62 lead before finishing it off at the foul line.

EWU was 9 of 12 on free throws in the fourth quarter and the Lumberjacks were 3 of 12 from the field, although going 10 of 10 from the line kept them close.

Lawrence had 15 points and Aaliyah Alexander (Federal Way, Wash.) had 12 for the Eagles. Big Sky MVP and defensive player of the year Jamie Loera (Moses Lake, Wash.), had 11 points, five assists, four rebounds, four blocks and two steals. Martin had 11 off the bench.

Sophie Glancey scored 15 points for the Lumberjacks (28-6), who also set a record for wins this season but lost in the championship game for the third-straight year. NAU’s only NCAA berth came in 2006. Nyah Moran had 14 points and nine rebounds and Grace Beasley had 12 points. NAU was without leading reserve Olivia Moran, who missed the game with an illness.

Eastern Washington only made 5 of 17 3-pointers, shot 37.5% overall (27 of 72) and was outrebounded 42-28. However, the Eagles had 15 offensive rebounds and forced 20 turnovers, leading to 15 more shot attempts and 28 points.

NAU was 3 of 17 behind the arc and shot 25 of 57 overall (42%).

EWU’s set a record with 10-straight wins earlier this season, a streak ended by an 89-81 overtime loss at NAU. The Eagles new streak includes a 67-41 win over the Lumberjacks, who won six straight after that loss.

Northern Arizona controlled the first quarter, using a late 8-0 run to open a 10-point lead, which it had at the end when Leia Beattie made a layup at the buzzer for a 22-12 lead. EWU forced nine turnovers in the second quarter and closed within 33-32 at the half.

Loera’s layup with two seconds left in the third quarter pulled Eastern Washington into a tie at 48.

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