NAU traveled to take on Eastern Washington University Feb. 3, and after a hard-fought, contested battle, NAU came out as the victors, 70-62.
NAU had a really rough start, as the Eagles took a 13-4 lead right away, by dominating the boards and capitalizing on turnovers. However, this didn’t last long as NAU quickly started to bridge the gap between the two scores, by taking better looks offensively and attempting to contain Eastern Washington's shooters. The Eagles' main game plan in the first half was to take advantage of the 2-3 defense that NAU was giving them with quick ball movement around the perimeter to free up shooters, and to attack the boards ferociously.
EWU freshman center Kennedy Dickie was especially good at the latter as she came away with 10 boards in the first half and came just one point shy from an early double-double. What saved NAU in the half was their ability to turn defense into offense, and capitalize in the paint. NAU got 7 turnovers that lead to 10 points and outscored EWU by 10 points in the paint, which is what barely got them their 1 point lead heading into the second half.
The second half was much of the same, both teams kept each other at bay, and no one could get a significant lead. That is until the fourth quarter, with the rise of NAU junior forward Khiarica Rasheed. The game was starting to slightly favor EWU as they took a 58-56 lead on NAU with five minutes left, but Rasheed wasn’t having it. She scored the next 9 out of 13 points for NAU, including 8 straight points that gave NAU their largest lead of the game, 11, right when they needed it. Her teammates also did their part at the other end, holding EWU scoreless over 4 minutes, while Rasheed went to work.
The Eagles' biggest downfall was that they relied on the 3-point line to bail them out too many times toward the end, giving NAU too many chances offensively to extend their lead.
In the end, NAU’s last burst of explosive offense was too much for EWU to overcome as they lost 70-62.
NAU women’s basketball team will return home for their next game, as they will face Idaho State University Feb. 6.