November 14, 2009

Eastern Officially Opens Season with 72-64 Victory

Brianne Ryan has 17 points and four steals heading into game Monday at Oregon

Box Score

Sophomore guard Brianne Ryan had 17 points and four steals as the Eastern Washington University women's basketball team officially opened their season with a 72-64 victory over Portland Saturday (Nov. 14) in Portland, Ore.

Senior Jessica Huntington added 18 points and three assists for the Eagles. Junior Tatjana Sparavalo chipped in 10 points and six rebounds.

Eastern led just 14-12 in the first half when the Eagles went on a 13-0 run while holding the Pilots 4:38 without scoring. The Eagles turned that 27-12 lead into a 44-29 halftime advantage.

The Eagles forced 28 turnovers in the game despite being out-shot (46 percent to 43 percent) and out-rebounded (37-29). The Eagles made 11-of-21 three-pointers, including three by Huntington. She also made 7-of-9 free throws for EWU.

The Pilots finished 17-14 last season and were 10-4 in the West Coast Conference, earning them an invitation to the WNIT postseason tournament. The Pilots return seven of 12 letter winners, including a trio of starters.

Eastern returns eight of 12 letter winners from last year's team that finished 10-19 overall and 5-11 in the Big Sky Conference. Five of the returning players are starters, and that helped translate to impressive exhibition victories. The Eagles defeated Central Washington 101-49 on Nov. 3 and Warner Pacific 69-46 on Nov. 7.

On Monday (Nov. 16), the Eagles play at Oregon in the women's collegiate coaching debut for first-year Duck head coach Paul Westhead.

Westhead comes to Oregon with a coaching resume that spans nearly four decades, including stints in the NBA, WNBA and the men's collegiate ranks. Known for executing an exciting brand of run-and-gun basketball, Westhead recently coached the Phoenix Mercury to a WNBA championship in 2007. His latest hardware made him the only head coach to win a championship in both the NBA (1980 with the Los Angeles Lakers) and WNBA.

The Ducks, who were just 9-21 overall and 5-10 in the Pacific 10 Conference, overwhelmed their two exhibition opponents. Oregon defeated Southern Oregon 109-47 on Nov. 3 and Western Oregon 109-65 on Nov. 8. A year ago, Oregon was the lowest-scoring team in the Pac-10, averaging less than 57 points a game

"Oregon will be an interesting matchup because of the style we anticipate they will play," said Eastern head coach Wendy Schuller earlier this week. "Coach Westhead is a legendary coach and will undoubtedly have his team ready to play a fast and furious 40 minutes of basketball."

 

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