Now 9-3 in conference, Eastern secures spot in Big Sky Conference Tournament with 63-52 victory over Northern Colorado
The Eastern Washington University women's basketball team clinched its spot in the Big Sky Conference Tournament with a 63-52 victory over the Northern Colorado Bears Friday (Feb. 19) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.
Eastern is the first team in the conference to clinch a berth to the six-team tournament with four league games remaining. The Eagles are now 9-3 in the conference and 16-9 overall. Montana and Portland State both trail the Eagles with an 8-4 conference record. The regular season champion hosts the tournament March 11-13.
"The first thing we wanted to do going into the year was make it into the tournament," said head coach Wendy Schuller. "We feel like we have a chance to win a league championship. We have put ourselves into a situation where we control our own destiny. Destiny is a choice and it is not something that is going to happen to us - we have to make it happen."
The Eagles will return to Reese Court Saturday (Feb. 19) to extend their Big Sky lead as they take on Northern Arizona, with tip-off set for 7:05 p.m. The Lumberjacks have lost five-straight games heading into the contest.
Brianne Ryan shot lights out in the contest, going 8-of-10 from the field en route to 17 points for the game. Ryan also contributed four rebounds and two assists. Julie Piper wasn't far behind with 15 points, seven rebounds and three steals. Chene Cooper finished with nine points as well as team highs in both assists with four and steals with four.
"I think that Julie Piper did a nice job of finishing for us in the paint and Brianne Ryan had a really nice game making things happen," said Schuller.
The Bears committed 22 turnovers while the Eagles committed 17. Eastern scored 23 points off those 22 turnovers. The Eagles shot 41.4 percent from the field while the Bears shot 36.5 percent. Northern Colorado edged Eastern on the boards 36-34
Eastern went into halftime with a 32-21 lead, but the Bears came out hot in the second half and closed the game to within three points by the 15:33 mark. Eastern stopped the run and the Bears were unable to get any closer.
"I was proud of our effort tonight and that we played extremely hard," said Schuller. "We talked about playing like there is nothing to lose and giving everything we got. I thought overall our effort level was really good."