Eagles Look to Get Back on Winning Track Against Saint Martin’s

Eastern will play SMU at 7:05 p.m. Saturday, following EWU's football playoff game

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Upcoming Games

EWU vs. Saint Martin's
Saturday, Dec. 11 - 7:05 p.m. (note time change)
Reese Court - Cheney, Wash.


Webcasts: http://www.bigskytv.org
(All home games and all Big Sky Conference games)

Live Stats: http://web.ewu.edu/groups/athletics/wbasketball/wblivestats/xlive.htm

With just one game on tap this week, the Eastern Washington University women's basketball team hopes the extra practice time will translate into a much-needed win on Saturday, Dec. 11 when it hosts Saint Martin's at 7:05 p.m. on Reese Court.

The Eagles will be looking for their first win since the initial game of the 2010-11 season. Although in the midst of a six-game losing skid, Eastern has shown encouraging signs of improvement in its last few outings. In the two games played at the Omni Hotels Classic in Boulder, Colo., on Nov. 26-27, the Eagles out-rebounded their opponents 99-65. Eastern could not nab a win in either game, as the team did not shoot particularly well, converting only 44 of its 141 (.312) total attempts from the field.

However, in the following game against Gonzaga on Dec. 3, Eastern shot 41 percent from the field, and had four players in double figures. The Bulldogs were unfortunately at the top of their game as well, making 39-of-62 (.629) shot attempts, including 20-of-28 (.714) in the first half alone. GU's senior All-American point guard Courtney Vandersloot scored a career-high 33 points on 12-of-17 shooting, while junior standout Katelan Redmon chipped in 21.

After the tough four-game road swing and the home matchup with one of the nation's best, Eastern hopes it can get back on track against Saint Martin's. SMU is an NCAA Division II school from the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. The Saints possess a 6-2 overall record thus far in the 2010-11 season, including wins in their last four-consecutive outings.

The Saints are led by senior forward Dara Zack, who averages 15.5 points per game. She is also their top rebounder with 6.5 caroms per game, and has the most assists on the squad with 18. Beyond Zack, the Saints have only one player who averages more than six points per game, and only one with more than five rebounds per game.

Saturday's contest will be the fourth meeting in history between Eastern and SMU. The two teams met for the first time in 1978, and then again in 2001 and 2003. Eastern has won all three previous meetings, including an 80-67 victory in 2001 and 70-53 decision in 2003.

Eagle Fast Breaks

  • Eastern has three players who are averaging 10 or more points per game after the first month of the season. Brianne Ryan leads the way with 11.1, while Tatjana Sparavalo and Julie Piper follow with 10.9 and 10.6 ppg, respectively.
  • Piper and Sparavalo, as well as sophomore Carrie Ojeda are also averaging at least six rebounds per game.
  • Three Eagles have registered one or more double doubles in 2010-11. Ryan and Sparavalo each have two, while Piper has one. Piper and Sparavalo rank in the top 15 in the Big Sky in rebounding, while Ryan is among the top 15 in scoring.
  • Junior Chene Cooper has dished out a team-leading 33 assists thus far in the 2010-11 season. Her average of 4.7 per game ranks fourth overall in the Big Sky Conference, while her assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.7 (33-20) ranks third. She is also third in the league in steals with a 2.0 steals per game average.
  • As a team, the Eagles lead the Big Sky in offensive rebounding at 19.0 per game. Eastern is last, however, in defensive rebounds with a 20.1 average. The team has five players who rank in the top 15 in offensive boards. Although this statistic is linked to a less than favorable field goal percentage of .353 (167-473), the team is at least giving itself ample opportunity for second-chance points.
  • The Eagles have impressed with their ability to take care of the ball in the first month of the season. The Eagles are second in the Big Sky in turnover margin at +1.6. Eastern has committed 112 turnovers in its first seven games, compared to 123 by its opponents. EWU's assist-to-turnover ratio of 0.8 (90-112) ranks third overall in the BSC. The Eagles are also in the top 50 in the nation in team turnovers, averaging just 16.0 per game.


Eagle News & Notes

Ryan's Streak up to Seven
EWU's Brianne Ryan has scored in double figures in every game of the 2010-11 season. She is one of only two players in the Big Sky to have a double-digit scoring streak of seven-consecutive games.  Her season high of 13 points came against Idaho, when she shot 4-of-8 from the field, including 2-of-3 from long range. She is currently the leading scorer for the Eagles, avreaging 11.1 points per game.

Freshmen Shine in Game Against Gonzaga
Three freshmen on the EWU 2010-11 roster found themselves on the court in Eastern's game against national powerhouse Gonzaga. Aubrey Ashenfelter, Laura Hughes and Chenise Pakootas combined for 44 minutes against the Bulldogs. Hughes recorded a career-high 10 points and grabbed a team-leading six rebounds in her 22 minutes of play. Ashenfelter tallied eight points on a perfect 4-of-4 shooting from the field. She also had two rebounds, two steals and one assist.

Piper Named to Omni Hotels Classic All-Tournament Team
Julie Piper was selected as one of five standout players for the 24th Annual Omni Hotels Classic All-Tournament Team. Piper averaged 15.0 points per game in the two games played in Boulder, Colo., on Nov. 26 and 27. She shot an impressive 52 percent from the field and was a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line. With those eight made free throws over the weekend, she moved into the top 10 in the Eastern record book for career free throws made. She now has 207 in her tenure. Although the Eagles were not able to record a win at the Omni Hotels Classic, Piper helped the team battle in competitive games against Loyola-Chicago and Evansville. Piper registered her first double-double of the season against the Ramblers with 20 points and 13 rebounds. She was 7-of-15 from the field, and knocked down all six of her attempts from the charity stripe. In addition to the double-double, Piper contributed three steals in the contest. Piper also scored in double digits against the Purple Aces, tallying 10 points of 4-of-6 shooting. Although her time on the floor was limited due to foul trouble, she added six rebounds and two steals in just 15 minutes.

Evans Dominates from Downtown
In Eastern's game against Boise State on Nov. 20 of this year, Kyla Evans hit three three pointers, moving her into third in the Eastern record book for career three pointers made. She now has 182 in her tenure, and is just 13 away from nabbing the record outright. She is also the only active player in the Big Sky who has 150+ career three-pointers and the only current Eagle who appears in the Big Sky record book, as she is 13th in career three pointers (182) and 20th in career three-point field goal percentage (.380).

Coop Climbing the Charts
Just a junior, Chene Cooper is already closing in on two top 10 lists in the EWU career record book. With 192 assists in her career, she is only 49 away from the top 10 in that category, which is certainly a feasible goal for this year, considering she tallied 89 assists last season as the back-up point guard. She is even closer to making her mark in the steals category, as she is only one shy of breaking into that top 10 list. Cooper has 118 total steals thus far in her career. Fifty-seven of those steals came last season, which ranks seventh in Eastern's single-season record book. In 2010-11 Big Sky play, Cooper is currently fifth in assists (4.3 per game), tied for third in steals (2.2 per game) and third in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.5).  

Sparavalo's Senior Season Off to Blazing Start
Senior Tatjana Sparavalo recorded double-doubles in two of Eastern's first four games of the 2010-11 season, and she led the team in scoring in three of those four contests. She earned her first career double-double against Cal State Fullerton (Nov. 12), tallying 16 points and 10 rebounds, both of which were team highs. In EWU's narrow loss to Boise State (Nov. 20), she had 21 points and 10 rebounds. Her 21 tallies against the Broncos led all players in the game, and was only three points away from her career high of 24.

Piper Selected as Candidate for Lowe's Senior CLASS Award
EWU senior forward Julie Piper was selected as one of 30 candidates for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as a NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition. The 2011 women's candidate class includes five players who were CoSIDA Academic All-Americans last year, 22 student-athletes with grade point averages of 3.0 or better, four players who participated in the 2010 Women's Final Four and 15 players on the preseason watch list for the John R. Wooden Award. The candidate class will be narrowed to 10 finalists midway through the regular season, and those names will be placed on the official ballot. Ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches and fans, who will select one finalist who best exemplifies excellence in the four Cs of community, classroom, character and competition.

Piper's Presence
Julie Piper has not missed a single game since the first time she stepped on the court as a freshman in 2007. She played in all 29 games during her rookie season, all 29 as a sophomore in 2008-09 and all 31 last year. She has started 82 of those 89 games. Besides her consistent court presence, Piper has scored at least two points in every game since Feb. 14, 2009 (0 vs. ISU), and has had at least three rebounds in every game since Nov. 28. 2008 (2 vs. UNLV).

Family Ties
Current Eagle Brianne Ryan is the daughter of one of the all-time greats in the Eastern Washington Women's Basketball program, Neil Ryan (formerly Neil Ann Massie). Neil Ryan played basketball for EWU from 1979-82, and is the third-leading rebounder in school history with 1,008 career rebounds. Her career rebounding average of 8.47 ranks fourth in the EWU record book, while her 346 rebounds in the 1979 season is the fourth-best single season performance in program history. She is also one of the all-time leading scorers, as her 1,190 career points ranks seventh overall in the EWU record book. She ranks sixth in career field goals made (509) and tenth in field goals attempted (1,001). EWU's relationship with the Ryan family does not stop there. Head coach Wendy Schuller recently signed Brianne's younger sister and Neil's youngest daughter, Kayleigh, to a national letter of intent to play basketball at Eastern starting in the 2011-12 school year.

Eagles Sign Four for 2011-12 Season
Four high school seniors from the state of Washington have signed national letters of intent to play basketball at Eastern Washington University. The members of the 2011 recruiting class include 5-foot-1 point guard Kylie Huerta from Kentwood High School, 5-11 guard Kayleigh Ryan from Lynden Christian High School, 6-0 forward Melissa Williams from Camas High School in Vancouver and 5-10 shooting guard Hayley Hodgins from Chiawana High School in Pasco. Huerta was ranked among the top 110 point guards in the nation according to ESPN Hoopgurlz.com, and earned South Puget Sound League North Division Co-MVP honors in 2010 after leading the league in points per game (18.9) and steals (57). Ryan, sister of current Eagle, Brianne Ryan, is a dual-sport athlete, earning letters in basketball and volleyball at Lynden Christian. As a junior on the basketball team, she averaged nine points, eight rebounds and 4.7 assists per game for the Lyncs. Williams was selected as the 2010 Greater St. Helen's League Player of the Year and the Columbian's All-Region Player of the Year. She led her team to the Class 3A District Championship in 2010, averaging 16 points per game throughout the year. Hodgins was a member of the Columbia Basin Big Nine Cascaded Division first-team in 2010 and was twice named the Tri-City Herald Athlete of the Week. Hodgins was the league's leading scorer during her junior year, averaging 18.4 points per game. She shot 46 percent from three-point range, which was also the best in the league.

Bringing Back the Blog
Senior Kyla Evans, is "bringing back the blog." As a freshman in 2007, Evans provided a blog for readers of www.goeags.com. Now, as a senior captain on the EWU squad, Evans will return to her role as the public voice of Eastern Washington women's basketball.  Every two weeks, she will provide commentary on the happenings of the squad, as they strive for another memorable season! Check back bi-monthly to the women's basketball page on www.goeags.com to follow Kyla and her creative contributions.


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