Record-Breaking Season Continues at Home For Eagles

Having already accomplished first regular season conference title in program history, Eastern eyes first Big Sky Tournament Championship since 1987


Upcoming Schedule

2010 Big Sky Conference Women's Basketball Tournament

Date - Opponent - Time/Pacific
March 12 - vs. Lowest Remaining Seed at Reese Court - 6 p.m.
March 13 - Championship Game at Reese Court - 2:05 p.m.

Eagles on TV/Radio/Webcasts . . .
All games in the tournament may be viewed live at www.bigskytv.org, with the championship game televised regionally by Altitude Sports and Entertainment. In addition, Eastern's semifinal game will be carried via radio in the Spokane area on 790-AM, with Larry Weir calling the play-by-play. If EWU advances to the title game, that may be heard on 1510-AM. Live stats of all tournament games will be available at: http://www.ewu.edu/groups/athletics/wbasketball/wblivestats/xlive.htm 


By Keenan Bowen, EWU Sports Information

The Eastern Washington University women's basketball team has accomplished many things over the duration of the 2009-10 season. The Eagles accomplished their first winning record in four seasons and they recorded the best conference start in program history. But even more important, the Eagles won their first ever regular season conference title and are the host and No. 1 seed heading into the Big Sky Conference Tournament this Thursday through Saturday (March 11-13) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.

Along with being one of the top two seeds comes a bye into the semifinals, so the first opponent in the tournament for the Eagles will be determined in the quarterfinals on Thursday. The Eagles will take on the lowest remaining seed between the two winners of No. 6 seed Montana State versus No. 3 seed Sacramento State and No. 5 seed Portland State versus No. 4 seed Idaho State.

Eastern was 2-0 this season against Montana State, but split the season series against the other four teams in the tournament. The lone home loss in league play for the Eagles came against Sacramento State by a 78-69 score on Feb. 6, but EWU had defeated the Hornets in Sacramento 90-85 on Dec. 31.

"We have to bring energy and we have been doing that all year with our rebounding and defense," said head coach Wendy Schuller, whose team ended the regular season last Saturday (March 6) with a 78-68 victory over Portland State.  "Those areas are where we have to make it happen. I was happy to see us score 78 points against Portland State and get going offensively because that has been our Achilles all year long. It is going to be important for us to not only defend and rebound, but also to be able to score a little bit. We have some high-powered teams in this league that can get the ball up and down the court and are dangerous."

The last time the Eagles won a conference tournament was back in 1987 when the Big Sky was known as the Mountain West Athletic Conference. The 1987 Eastern team finished second behind Montana in the league standings but knocked off the Grizzlies 77-74 in Missoula in the tournament championship game. That earned EWU its first and only women's berth to the NCAA Tournament, where it lost to Oregon 75-56.

 

BSC Honors: 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.

 

BSC Tournament Seeding: With the potential of a championship game matchup between Eastern Washington University and perennial league power Montana, pairings are set for the Big Sky Conference Women's Basketball Tournament which will take place this Thursday through Saturday (March 11-13) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.

The tournament gets underway at 3:30 p.m. Pacific time on Thursday when No. 6 seed Montana State (16-13, 9-7 BSC) takes on third-seeded Sacramento State (15-14, 10-6 BSC). At 6 p.m., fifth-seeded Portland State (15-14, 9-7 BSC) takes on No. 4 seed Idaho State (15-14, 10-6 BSC).

In the opener Friday at 3:30 p.m., Montana (16-13, 9-7 BSC) will face the highest remaining seed from Thursday's round. Eastern Washington (19-10, 12-4 BSC), the tournament host and regular season Big Sky Conference champion, will play at 6 p.m. against the lowest remaining seed (Montana State if it wins, or the winner of the PSU vs. ISU game if Sac State is victorious).

 

Seniors: Eagle seniors Jessica Huntington and Nicole Scott have been through a lot in their four years in a combined 231 games in the red and white. The two seniors went a combined 24-63 in their first three years at Eastern - including a 4-25 sophomore campaign.

"Those seniors have been through a lot," said EWU head coach Wendy Schuller. "I do not know if you can find two players that have had careers that have been on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of wins and losses, and success and failures. They are great examples of perseverance and sticking with something and believing in a system. We never changed -- we just did what we did and we just kept trying to get better at it. They bought in and believed and I am so happy for them. They mean everything. They are the bookends -- your point guard and your center. They bring us energy, life, and heart. I am just really excited for them."

Huntington has started every game for the Eagles this season and is averaging 5.9 points and 3.7 assists per game. The point guard is fifth all-time in games played with 115 and is third all-time with 408 career assists. Huntington is seventh all-time with 80 career three-pointers and third all-time with a 35.6 career percentage behind the arc.

"Huntington is as solid as a point guard gets," said Schuller. "She takes great care of the ball and has a great understanding of our system of play. Her greatest attribute is her work ethic - she has put a lot of time into making herself into such a solid player and as a coach it's reassuring to know that we will get everything she has every time she steps on the court."

Scott has also started every game for the Eagles this season, and went over the 1,000-point mark in her career versus Portland State on March 6. She is averaging 6.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. Scott has blocked a team-high 34 shots this season, giving her 132 for her career which ranks fourth all-time in program history. The forward is fourth all-time in games played with 116.

"Scott has meant a lot to our program in many ways," said Schuller. "She has been a consistent player throughout her career and always given us a solid presence on the block. She is a great teammate and I have always admired her for how big her heart is when it comes to helping others."

 

Wins and Family Both Grow: Head coach Wendy Schuller's win total in her ninth season at the helm of the Eastern Washington women's basketball program isn't the only thing getting larger in 2010. In June, she and her husband Mark will welcome their third child, joining their 9-year-old son, Rory (born Oct. 16, 2000), and 6-year-old daughter, Megan (born July 15, 2003) to their family. Rory was born while Schuller was associate head coach at Northwestern State in Natchitoches, La. She was pregnant with Megan during her second season at the helm when the Eagles finished 17-12 overall -- her most successful season until this year. Wendy and Mark are expecting a boy.

 

Three-Pointers:  The Eagles have set the school record for three-pointers made in a season with a total of 170 this year. The previous record was 166 set back in 2004. In the process, the Eagles attempted 492 treys, just four shy from the record of 496 set in 2007.

"It's not something we have focused on so I think it is mainly a result of shot selection," said Schuller about the team's three-point output. "That means we have had the right players shooting it at the right times. Our solid inside presence has also forced teams to collapse and opened up shots for us from three. Having a great three point shooter like Kyla Evans doesn't hurt either!"

 

Big Sky Champs: A 70-56 victory over Weber State on Feb. 26 clinched at least a share of the first regular season Big Sky Championship in school history. Although Eastern lost at Idaho State 71-63 the next night, they wrapped up the outright title the following weekend. A Sacramento State loss at ISU on March 5 actually assured EWU of sole possession of the title, but Eastern made it a moot point the next day with a 78-68 win over PSU.

"The Idaho State loss was tough because we lost a chance to win the league outright, but I also dislike the fact that it took some of the shine off of us clinching our first title," said Schuller. "Our team believed in themselves when no one else did and I am so proud of the heart and effort put forward by them to accomplish this goal. We get great support from former players and their families and it was special hearing from a number of them after the Weber State game."

 

39 From The Bench: Thanks to a late rally and the play of their bench, the Eagles avoided a loss Feb. 20 against the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks. The Eagles found themselves down 14 points with 5:24 remaining and proceeded to go on a 24-3 run in the final minutes to capture a 71-64 victory.

The victory was in large part due to Eastern's bench players, who contributed 39 points in the contest. Reserves Tatjana Sparavalo scored a game-high 21 points and Chene Cooper scored 18 points. Cooper also dished out six assists.

"This game was a great example that on any given night we have a variety of players who can step up for us," said Schuller. "Our bench is extremely important to our success. We get great energy from the bench both offensively and defensively."

 

The Rock: Junior forward Julie Piper has led the steady Eagles in scoring and rebounding all season, but the Roseburg, Ore., native stepped up her game in Big Sky play. Piper is averaging 12.6 points and 8.3 rebounds a game in league play.

She was named Big Sky Conference Player of the Week for the games played the week of March 1-7.  It was the first-ever BSC award for the 2007 graduate of Roseburg (Ore.) High School. Piper had 20 points, 13 rebounds and a blocked shot as the Eagles defeated Portland State 78-68. 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. It was also Piper's seventh time being in double figures in rebounds.

The junior finished the regular season averaging 12.1 points per game, and she is the only player on the roster whose scoring average has reached double digits. Piper also leads the team in rebounds at 7.8 per game.

"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."

 

Fear the Reese: The Eagles are 12-2 when playing at Reese Court this season. Eastern's home opener against Idaho on Nov. 19 turned into a thrilling, 54-51 overtime victory for Eastern. Eastern also turned in another overtime thriller against Big Sky rival Montana on Jan. 8, defeating the Grizzlies 67-64.

The only two losses at Reese Court this season for the Eagles came at the hands of Cal Poly on Dec. 16 and Sacramento State on Feb. 6.

"Defending our home court is vital and that is why it was so important for us to host the tournament," said Schuller. "Our players seem to be energized when we play home and the great crowds we have had lately have really fired us up to another level."

 

Breakin' Records: With their 77-65 victory over Weber State on Jan. 23, the Eagles surpassed the school record for best conference start in history.

"We are quite happy with our 7-0 start," said Schuller. "We weren't aware of the school record until that night and anything we can do to positively represent Eastern Washington University is something our team is proud to accomplish."

The Eagles tied the previous record of 6-0 with a victory over Idaho State on Friday (Jan. 22). The previous record of 6-0 was set during the 1984-85 season when the Eagles competed in the Mountain West Conference.

"This group of young women has worked extremely hard and continued to believe in themselves, each other and this program even when things didn't always go our way," said Schuller. "They are a true example of what perseverance and faith can do in your life."

 

Team Ball: Part of the Eagles success this season can be attributed to the team basketball Eastern has been playing. The Eagles have just one player, Julie Piper, who is averaging more than 10 points a game -- despite the fact that the Eagles feature one of the top scoring offenses in the conference.

By comparison, every other team in the top half of the conference has at least two players averaging 10 points or more a game.

"Our team talks a lot about winning as a team and one thing we really enjoy is sharing the credit," said Schuller. "Individual accolades aren't what this team is about. Everyone has a job and I think a huge part of our start can be attributed to players understanding their job and getting it done for the sake of the team."

Seven different Eagles have led the team in scoring in single games this season, and six different Eagles have led the team in rebounds. Also, seven different players are averaging at least six points per game.

 

Evans Shines: Junior Kyla Evans from Brewster, Wash., had quite the week from Jan. 18 though Jan. 24. 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.

Her performances didn't go unnoticed by the Big Sky Conference, which named her the Big Sky Player of the Week. The award was the first for any EWU player this season and was the first in the three-year career for Evans.

For the second-straight year, Evans has been 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.

A 2007 graduate of Brewster (Wash.) High School, 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.

 

Back-to-Back Games: In a league-wide cost-cutting measure, schools in the Big Sky played more back-to-back games. The Eagles finished 7-1 in back-to-back games in the regular-season and might have another shot at back-to-back games if the Eagles win in the conference tournament semifinals.

"We have great depth and that has helped us with back-to-back games, it'll be important when we get into tournament play," said Schuller.

 

Losing Streak Broken: Eastern's 67-64 overtime victory over Montana on Jan. 8 was its first win in the series since the 2005-06 season, when the Eagles edged the Lady Griz 58-56 at Reese Court.  The win on Jan. 8 broke a seven-game losing streak to the Lady Griz, who are the reigning Big Sky Conference champions.

"We knew coming in that Montana played a tough zone defense," said Schuller. "That gave us trouble especially early in the game and we were not attacking it the way we needed to be attacking. We made some adjustments and I thought our team did a nice job of making some key stops down the stretch."

Those key stops came in the way of turnovers by Montana down the stretch when Eastern held a one-point lead. Sarah Ena, who led Montana in scoring with 19 points, turned the ball over with 15 seconds remaining and Lauren Beck turned the ball over with five seconds remaining to put the game on ice for the Eagles.

Links:
Eastern Basketball -- http://goeags.com/sports/w-baskbl/index
Big Sky Conference Basketball -- http://bigskyconf.com/sport.asp?path=wbball&tab=womens
NCAA Basketball -- http://www.ncaa.com/sports/w-baskbl/ncaa-w-baskbl-body.html
ESPN College Scoreboard -- http://scores.espn.go.com/ncw/scoreboard
Coach Schuller's Website -- http://www.coachschuller.com/
Coach Schuller's Twitter -- http://twitter.com/EWUCoachSchu
More Information and Links are Available at: HTTP://WWW.GOEAGS.COM

Recent EWU Women's Basketball Headlines . . .
March 7, 2010 - Pairings Set for Big Sky Tournament at Reese Court
March 6, 2010 - Eagles Send Seniors Out as Winners In Regular-Season Finale
March 5, 2010 - After Getting Help from ISU, Eagles Will Host Big Sky Tournament
February 27, 2010 - Bengals Edge Eagles 71-63
February 26, 2010 - Eagles Clinch at Least a Share of Big Sky Title
February 20, 2010 - Comeback Victory Gives Eagles Tenth Big Sky Win
February 19, 2010 - Eagles Secure Postseason Spot With Victory Over Bears
February 13, 2010 - Montana Drops Eagles 75-60
February 11, 2010 - Eagles Topple Bobcats 71-64
February 6, 2010 - Hornets Sting Eagles 78-69
February 5, 2010 - Kersee Lind and Kyla Evans are Scholar-Athletes of the Month
February 4, 2010 - Evans Repeats on Academic All-District Squad
February 3, 2010 - Eagles Fly Over Redhawks 67-50
January 30, 2010 - Eagles Fall At Portland State 67-60
January 25, 2010 - Evans Named Big Sky Player of the Week
January 23, 2010 - Eagles Earn Historic Victory Over Weber State 77-65
January 22, 2010 - Eagles Tame Bengals 70-60 To Remain Unbeaten In Big Sky
January 18, 2010 - Untouched Eagles Return Home for Two Games
January 16, 2010 - Eagles Sneak Past Bears 51-49
January 14, 2010 - Eagles Cut Down Lumberjacks 66-52
January 9, 2010 - Eagles Victorious Over Bobcats 69-63
January 8, 2010 - Eagles Best Lady Griz in Overtime Thriller 67-64


EWU Basketball Highlights . . .

  • The Eagles have advanced to the Big Sky Conference semifinals three of the past eight years.
  • For the last eight years, Eastern has ranked among the top 10 teams nationally in the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Academic Top 25 Honor Roll. In 2003-04, Eastern had the top grade point average in the country, 3.63. In 2008-09 EWU ranked ninth (3.42).
  • Two Eagles have attained ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America second team honors - Joanna Chadd in 2006-07 and Kathleen Nygaard in 2003-04.
  • The past eight seasons, 67 players have earned Big Sky All-Academic honors, the most in the league.

 

Eagle 2009-10 Performances . . .

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.

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.

Nicole Scott has started all 29 games this season and has averaged 22.8 minutes per game. The senior is averaging 6.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. Scott has blocked a team-high 34 shots this season, giving her 132 for her career which ranks fourth all-time in program history. Scott had her strongest performance of the season on Feb. 6 against Sacramento State as she had 16 points and nine rebounds in the contest, along with a block and a steal. Scott has played in the fourth-most games in the history of the program with 116 and went over the 1,000-point mark in her career on March 6 versus Portland State.

Jessica Huntington has been the starting point guard for all 29 of the Eagles games this season and is averaging 5.9 points and 3.7 assists per game. The point guard is fifth all-time in games played with 115 and is third all-time with 408 career assists. Huntington is seventh all-time with 80 career three-pointers and third all-time with a 35.6 career percentage behind the arc. Huntington sports the second-best assist-to-turnover ratio in the conference with a plus 1.7 per game. Her 106 assists on the year is the seventh-highest total in the conference.

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.

Tatjana Sparavalo has come off the bench in 26 games this season and is averaging 7.5 points per game in 15.8 minutes of action. She has the second-highest free throw percentage on the team, connecting on 32-of-37 free-throws for 86.5 percent. Sparavalo has scored in double-figures on 10 different occasions this season, most recently pouring in 21 points against Northern Arizona on Feb. 20. Her three-point percentage of 39.3 (24-of-61) is the 10th highest single-season output in school history.

Chene Cooper has appeared in all 29 games this season for the Eagles and is averaging 19.1 minutes per game off the bench. Her 8.7 points per game are the fourth-most on the team and her 2.9 assists per game are the second most. Cooper has 56 steals on the season which is first on the team and ranks 10th all-time for a single season steal total. She has scored in double figures 10 times this season, including the last four games of the regular season when she averaged 19.5 points. Her 23-point performance against Weber State on Feb. 26 was a career high.

Breauna Russell started one and appeared in all 29 games for the Eagles this season. In 11.3 minutes of action, Russell is averaging 1.7 points and 1.4 rebounds a game. Russell set single game career highs this season in points scored (eight), rebounds (five), and assists (five). The sophomore has tallied 23 assists and 27 steals over the course of the season.

Jordan Schoening has appeared in 28 games for the Eagles this season and is averaging 12.6 minutes per outing. The freshman is averaging three points per game and established a career-high point total of nine against Montana Tech on Dec. 12. Schoening also had a career-high five rebounds on Jan. 14 against Northern Arizona and three assists versus Corban College on Nov. 21.

Carrie Ojeda has played in 27 games for the Eagles this season and is averaging 7.3 minutes of action. She is averaging two points and 2.3 rebounds a game. The freshman scored six points in three different games this season and pulled down a career-high seven rebounds on Jan. 16 against Northern Colorado.

Courtney Nolen appeared in 19 games this season and is averaging 2.3 points and 1.8 rebounds in 9.7 minutes per game. Nolen scored a career-high seven points in just eight minutes against UC Irvine on Dec. 19. The freshman forward pulled down four rebounds in three different games, most recently against Gonzaga on Dec. 1.

Jessica Thielen has appeared in 15 games for the Eagles this season, averaging 6.1 minutes per game. In her first season at Eastern, Thielen had career and season high in points with four against Seattle (2/3/10) and Montana State (1/9/10).  Thielen has also contributed three rebounds on three different occasions, most recently against the Bobcats. She also has five assists and eight steals on the year.

 

About Head Coach Wendy Schuller . . .

Under head coach Wendy Schuller, the Eastern Washington University women's basketball team has reached heights unseen in Cheney in decades, both on and off the basketball court.

Over the past eight campaigns, the team has been ranked amongst the top 10 squads on the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Academic Top 25 Honor Roll, something only achieved by one other team (Indiana State). The Eagle squad of 2003-04 placed first nationally with a 3.63 grade point average.

Schuller led Eastern to back-to-back .500-or-better regular-season Big Sky Conference records for the first time in school history (2004-05 and 2005-06) as well as tournament appearances in five of her eight seasons at EWU. To put that achievement into perspective, Eastern Washington played in just five BSC Tournaments in its first 13 years of Big Sky play.

Since the Big Sky began sponsoring women's sports in 1988-89, the Eagles have compiled two overall winning seasons and five trips to the Big Sky Conference Tournament semifinals. Both of those winning marks came during Schuller's time on the Eastern campus, as did three of the five conference semifinal appearances.

Schuller and the Eagles have made Reese Court a challenging place for visitors to play, as Eastern has compiled a commanding 38-29 mark (.567 winning percentage) in its last 67 games played there. Eastern went 8-6 at home last year en route to recording 2.5 times as many overall wins as was attained the previous year, 10.

In 2005-06, Eastern Washington qualified for the Big Sky Conference Championship for the seventh consecutive season and was the fourth seed at the event for the second straight season, its highest seeding since the 1994-95 campaign.

She led Eastern to a winning campaign in 2004-05 (16-12) to start just the team's second set of consecutive winning seasons for the Eagles since the 1986-87 and 1987-88 campaigns.

The 2003-04 season saw Eastern Washington qualify for the BSC Tournament semifinal round for the third straight season.

In 2002-03, Eastern had its first winning campaign in 16 years at 17-12 and came the closest to making the Big Sky championship game in school history, falling in the semifinal round to top seed and host Weber State by just nine points, 64-55.

In Schuller's first season of 2001-02, Eastern Washington claimed a tournament quarterfinal contest as the fifth seed for the first of two straight seasons. The Eagles topped No. 4 Northern Arizona 70-57 to mark its furthest advancement in the tournament in seven years.

Prior to arriving at Eastern, Schuller began her coaching career at Northwestern State University. In 1993, she started coaching as a graduate assistant for the Lady Demons while earning a master's degree in sports administration.

Following graduation, she became a full-time assistant, and her duties included acting as defensive coordinator and primary recruiter and working with opponent preparation and general operations.

In 1997, she was promoted to associate head coach.

Her last six years at the Natchitoches, La., school saw her also serve as the senior woman administrator.

In total, Schuller coached for nine seasons at NSU under head coach James Smith, the most successful coach in Southland Conference history.

In that time span, the team won 185 games and two conference titles and earned a pair of wins over top-25 teams as one of the top-30 winningest NCAA Division I programs of the 1990s.

Schuller earned her bachelor's degree in business in 1992 from Fresno Pacific University after playing for the Sunbirds as a shooting guard.

Her senior season, she helped lead FPU to a 25-6 record, a No. 14 national ranking in the NAIA ranks and advancement to the NAIA Tournament's Round of 16. She was also selected as an NAIA Academic All-American that season.

A native of Redlands, Calif., Schuller and her husband, Mark, have an 9-year-old son, Rory (born Oct. 16, 2000), and a 6-year-old daughter, Megan (born July 15, 2003). The family resides in Cheney.

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