LA GRANDE — Make it eight games in row and counting for the Eastern Oregon University women’s basketball team.
Jane Nelson scored 17 points Wednesday to lead four players in double figures, and the Mountaineers — unlike in their last game with College of Idaho — had little issue earning a 78-68 home win in Cascade Collegiate Conference action.
“People did a little bit of everything,” EOU head coach Anji Weissenfluh said. “We didn’t have spectacular games but we had solid games from a lot of people. Great balanced scoring, and each time they went on a run we were able to answer or hold them off.”
Eastern trailed only once early in the game and led by as much as 17 points as it beat the Yotes for the 13th straight time. The Mountaineers held a double digit lead most of the evening, and every time the Yotes tried to claw back in the game EOU responded.
Nelson had a major reply early in the third to help the Mountaineers get going after a slow start to the period that saw them turn the ball over three straight times as C of I pulled within 44-37. Nelson snapped the cold spell with a 3-pointer to push the lead back to 10, then hit a baseline jumper and followed with a pullup jumper off a turnover for a 51-37 lead.
C of I cut the margin back to eight later in the third on a basket by Lexi Mitchell, who had 17 points for the Yotes, but a fastbreak layup by Jill Albright put EOU back up 12, and Emma Logan beat the third-quarter buzzer with a jumper for a 59-49 lead.
“Jill Albright had a really good game,” Weissenfluh said.
Nelson sparked EOU again early in the fourth with a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws before a layup by Kylie Smith gave Eastern its largest lead at 66-49. C of I got no closer than eight the rest of the way.
“She’s been our defensive stopper,” Weissenfluh said of Nelson. “And even though she was struggling some on offense and just shooting percentage (early in the season), the last probably five games she’s clutch. It’s not how much you do, it’s when you do it.”
Albright finished with 12 points, and both Megan Still and Rachel Fielder added 10 for EOU, which shot 54% from the floor for the game and hit seven 3-pointers. Still and Madison Crews, in fact, were a perfect 2-for-2 from deep.
And unlike the previous contest, where EOU needed a last-second layup by Fielder for a 63-61 win in a game that saw it commit 26 turnovers, the Mountaineers had about half that Wednesday with 14, including giving it away just three times in the first half.
“First half we took care of the ball,” Weissenfluh said. “We set the tone.”
The victory moves EOU within a game of Northwest Christian for first place in the CCC.
Eastern (17-7 overall, 11-3 CCC) faces Walla Walla on the road Friday and Saturday.