Eastern tunes up for Big Sky Tournament with 78-68 victory over Portland State
Although it was senior day, junior Julie Piper scored 20 points and had 13 rebounds as the Eastern Washington University women's basketball team ended its regular season with a 78-68 victory over the Portland State Vikings Saturday (March 6) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.
The Eagles will now turn their attention to the Big Sky Conference Tournament (March 11-13), where they will serve as tournament host and will be the No. 1 seed.
Piper was 7-of-15 from the field and a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line as she finished with her fifth double-double of the season. Chene Cooper was once again a factor off the bench for the Eagles as she finished with 19 points, four rebounds and three assists. Cooper was also a perfect 6-of-6 from the charity stripe.
Kyla Evans was the only other Eagle in double figures as she finished with 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field, including 3-for-3 from beyond the three-point line.
Eastern's lone two seniors -- Jessica Huntington and Nicole Scott -- were honored in pre-game ceremonies as they have combined for 231 games in their careers. Huntington finished with six assists and Scott had eight points and seven rebounds as she went over the 1,000-point mark in her career.
"I think that our energy level was great and we had great contributions from everybody," said Eagle head coach Wendy Schuller, who was doused with a water bucket following the victory. "It was just a good indication of what our team has been all year -- it has just been about the whole team. It has not been about one player who has carried us -- everyone has made great contributions for us all year long. It was nice to have the last game be a display of that."
The Eagles finished the game shooting 48.3 percent from the field, topping a 37.7 percent output by the Vikings. The Eagles out-rebounded the Vikings 41-29 and committed 17 turnovers.
Both teams shot well from the free throw line with Portland State connecting on 13-of-15 attempts while Eastern put down 17-of-23. Eastern was 5-of-12 from the three-point line while Portland State connected on 9-of-27 attempts (just 1-of-11 in the first half).
Eastern led Portland State 38-26 heading into halftime thanks to Piper, who led the Eagles with 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting and six rebounds. The Eagles went into the break shooting 53.6 percent from the field.
The Vikings went on a 16-4 run in the first five minutes of the second half to tie the contest at 42-42, but Eastern regained the lead shortly after and led the rest of the game.
The Eagles finished 19-10 overall and their 12-4 finish in the Big Sky led to the first regular season title in program history. With the win over the Vikings, the Eagles improved their home record to 12-2.
The Eagles will play their first game in the tournament in the semifinals on Friday (March 12) at 6 p.m. The championship game is slated for the next day at 2:05 p.m. Pacific time. The six teams in the tournament have already been determined -- EWU, Sacramento State, Idaho State, Portland State, Montana and Montana State. Seedings and pairings have yet to be determined. The top two seeds receive byes to the semifinals.