A First for EWU, Julie Piper is MVP of the Big Sky Conference
Brianne Ryan shares Defensive Player of the Year honor, with Kyla Evans earning a spot on the All-BSC second team
A trio of Eastern Washington University underclassmen -- including history-making MVP Julie Piper -- have been selected by the league's head coaches to the Big Sky Conference women's All-Conference team released Monday (March 8).
Piper, Eastern's first-ever recipient of that award, was also a first team All-BSC selection. Sophomore Brianne Ryan was selected as the co-Defensive Player of the Year and junior Kyla Evans earned second team accolades.
Piper is a 2007 graduate of Roseburg (Ore.) High School, and earned honorable mention All-Big Sky honors as a sophomore. The Eagles haven't had a first team All-BSC selection since Julie Page was honored in 2006.
Ryan is from Lynden, Wash., and graduated from Lynden Christian HS in 2008. Evans is a 2007 graduate of nearby Brewster (Wash.) High School.
The trio led the Eagles to a 19-10 record overall and 12-4 finish in the league as EWU won its first-ever Big Sky regular season title. Piper was the lone Eastern player to average in double figures in scoring, averaging 12.1 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.
"The MVP honor is well deserved," said Eastern head coach Wendy Schuller. "Julie is unselfish and cares about the team first. She has worked really hard as a basketball player and I am very excited for her. Her teammates will be happy for her because she cares so much about the team. She represents our program to the highest degree in so many ways that it's nice to see her be recognized with an award like this."
Piper and Evans played as freshmen in the 2007-08 season when the Eagles won just four of 29 games. Evans is averaging 9.4 points per game, and has made a school-record 39.0 percent of her three-point attempts in her career (170-of-436).
"Kyla is an outstanding player," said Schuller. "She is another player who has worked extremely hard on her game and has really helped us out this season -- shooting lights out from the three-point arc for us. She and Julie were with us in the lean years and I am definitely excited for Kyla."
Ryan averages 8.8 points and 4.4 rebounds per game and has three double-doubles this season, but her real contribution has come on the defensive end for the Eagles. She has 43 steals this season and regularly guards the opponent's best player.
"I am glad the league got it right," said Schuller. "No matter whom we played all year we assigned her to their best player and she shut them down. She did a wonderful job and is just a great team defender. She stepped up to the plate and did it. She is only a sophomore and her best basketball is still in front of her."
More on Julie Piper . . .
Julie Piper has started all 29 games for the Eagles this season and has led the team in scoring and rebounding all season long. Piper has been a double-double machine on the year as she has accounted for five, most recently scoring 20 points and pulling down 13 rebounds in a 78-68 victory over Portland State on March 6. Her performance against the Vikings earned her the first Big Sky Player of the Week award of her career. Her 7.8 rebounds per game ranks third in the Big Sky while her 12.1 points per game ranks 14th in the league. Her 20-point output against the Vikings was her highest of the season and her season high rebounding performance of 13 came four different times, most recently against the Vikings. Piper has shot a team-high 46.9 percent from the field on the season, which ranks fourth in the Big Sky.
Piper stepped up her game in Big Sky play, averaging 12.6 points and 8.3 rebounds a game in 16 league games. Besides her five double-doubles this season, she has rebounded in double figures seven times.
"Julie plays as hard as any player I have ever coached," said Schuller. "She has worked hard to have a great season. She has a great humility about her and will do anything for this team."
More on Kyla Evans . . .
Kyla Evans has played in and started in 28 games this season for the Eagles. She is averaging 9.4 points per game, which ranks second on the team and 26th in the conference. Evans has connected on 58-of-144 three-point attempts and her 40.3 percent ranks fourth in the Big Sky and first on the team. Her 39.0 career three-point percentage ranks first all-time in program history and the junior ranks fourth in career three-pointers made (170) and fourth in career three-point attempts (436). She ranks first on the team in free throw percentage, connecting on 30-of-33 from the charity stripe for 90.9 percent. Evans had quite the week from Jan. 18-24 en-route to Big Sky Player of the Week honors. The three-point ace started off her week with a solid performance against Idaho State on Jan. 22 with 11 points and four steals. Evans then had the top scoring performance of her career, scoring a career-high 24 points against Weber State one night later. She combined for 35 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in the home sweep over the Bengals and Wildcats. For the second-straight year, Evans was also named to the named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VIII squad as selected by members of the College Sports Information Directors Association (CoSIDA). She was selected to the second team after earning first team honors a year ago. Evans has a 3.97 grade point average as a communication studies major with minors in government and leadership. She has previously been named to the Big Sky Conference All-Academic team as a freshman and sophomore, and was honored as an Eastern Washington Scholar-Athlete of the Month for December 2008 and January 2010. She also helped the Eagles to a fourth-place spot on the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Coaches Association Academic Honor Roll Top 25 as a freshman, and a No. 8 ranking as a sophomore. Eastern has been honored by the WBCA for eight-straight seasons.
More on Brianne Ryan . . .
Brianne Ryan has been the do-everything combo-guard for the Eagles in 29 starts this season. The sophomore is averaging 8.8 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. Ryan has put together three double-doubles this season, most recently scoring 12 points and pulling down 10 boards on Jan. 22 against Idaho State. She scored a career and season-high 18 points against Northern Colorado on Jan. 16. Ryan is second on the team with a total of 43 steals on the year.