Eastern Oregon saw what was once a 24-point second-half lead over Northwest Christian whittled down to seven midway through the quarter as the Beacons finally found a rhythm.
Fortunately for the Mountaineers, they had built a lead that proved to be insurmountable, and came up with some big plays in the closing minutes.
Maya Ah You-Dias scored 26 points, Payton Parrish had a double-double, and the Mountaineers continued their perfect start to Cascade Collegiate Conference play with an 86-74 win over NCU Friday at Quinn Coliseum.
“I thought our first three quarters we played great,” head coach Anji Weissenfluh said. “We defended. We rebounded. Offensively we were sharing the ball. We had a lot of people contributing offensively. Thank God we did enough in those three quarters to weather the storm in the fourth quarter. They’re a great team.”
NCU trimmed the lead, which at one point was
57-33 after a Parrish jumper, to 68-48 after three quarters, but then made a move in the fourth.
An 11-2 run, capped by a Morgan McKinney jumper, cut the gap to 11. EOU extended it back to 14 at 73-59, before the Beacons drew closer, finishing another run with a Niki Duncan 3-pointer and a McKinney jumper to get within 75-68 with 4:49 left.
That’s when Eastern’s seniors took over.
Ah You-Dias made a jumper in the paint on the ensuing possession, one of many times on the night she quelled an NCU run with a basket. Reece Bauer followed with a steal and a layup to push the lead back to double figures.
“You have girls who have the desire to get it done,” Weissenfluh said. “They stepped up big when the pressure’s on, and they’ve been doing that for four years. This is nothing new for them.”
Added Ah You-Dias: “We just huddled up and said we had to buckle down. We had a lot of game left and anything could happen.”
After the Beacons cut it back to nine again, Parrish gathered in her own miss and beat the shot clock with a tough turnaround in the lane to make it 81-70 with just 2:18 left.
“For us it was definitely the shots, but also the defensive stops,” Parrish, who had 19 points and 11 rebounds, said of the late run. “Every time down the court we were like ‘Just one stop.’ And once we got that one stop, ‘OK one more stop.’”
A late 3 pulled NCU back to single digits with 32 seconds left, but EOU hit five late free throws to ice the win.
Eastern won despite an uncharacteristically off night from 3-point range, as the Mountaineers’ shot just 5-for-27, or 19 percent, from beyond the arc. Weissenfluh attributed a lot of that to the NCU defense.
“We knew we had to put the ball on the floor a little,” Weissenfluh said. “They were going to run us off the 3-point line. They know we lead the conference and were one of the top 3-point shooting teams in the nation.”
Instead, EOU did a large part of its damage inside and at the free-throw line. Eastern totaled 40 points in the paint, and was an efficient 19-for-22 from the charity stripe. Ah You-Dias, who was consistently getting to the basket, was 11-for-11 at the line.
Eastern built up its lead thanks to a fast start to the game and a strong finish to the second quarter. Stormee Van Belle, who had 13 points, scored nine in the first period as EOU opened the game on a 19-5 run and led 21-10 after one.
EOU 73, Corban 58: Maya Ah You-Dias scored 18 points and Eastern built up its lead in the third quarter to top the Warriors.
The win, coupled with a loss by Evergreen Saturday night, put EOU alone in first place in the CCC.
Payton Parrish added another double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Stormee Van Belle had a solid all-around game with 10 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Maren Herrud added 11 points.
Eastern used a 21-10 third quarter to take a 58-42 lead into the fourth.
EOU (11-2 overall, 4-0 CCC) hosts College of Idaho Wednesday.