Piper and Sparavalo lead Eagles with a combined 39 points on 74 percent shooting
Junior Chene Cooper registered a career-high 12 assists and senior Julie Piper tied her career-high with 23 points, as the Eastern Washington University women's basketball team defeated Saint Martin's 73-44 on Saturday (Dec. 11) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash. With the win, the Eagles snapped a six-game losing skid and improved their overall season record to 2-6. The Saints, a Division II school from the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, dropped to 6-4 in the 2010-11 season.
Eastern recorded its best field goal percentage of the year, converting 30-of-61 shots, while holding the Saints to a dismal 26 percent from the field. The Eagles knocked down seven three pointers, four of which came off the hand of senior Tatjana Sparavalo.
"Field goal percentage is something we have talked a lot about in the past few weeks," said EWU head coach Wendy Schuller. "We have focused on getting good shot selection, and have spent a lot of time shooting the ball in practice. We thought team did a really nice job of executing those goals tonight."
Sparavalo finished with 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field, which included a perfect 4-of-4 from long range.
Senior Julie Piper also exhibited a hot hand, as she hit 11 of her 15 attempts from the floor. She led the Eagles in scoring with 23 tallies, which tied her career high. Piper also grabbed a team-leading eight rebounds.
Junior Chene Cooper was also a major factor in Eastern's high-powered offense, as she tallied a career-high 12 assists.
"Cooper did a great job of distributing the ball," applauded Schuller. "We could tell she was making a conscious effort to try and create opportunities for others. Coop is a special kind of point guard because she has the ability to score, but tonight, we saw her take a step back and focus on the other part of her job."
Eastern trailed 4-6 early in the first half, but a three-pointer by senior Kyla Evans sparked a 15-0 run by the Eagles to give them a 19-8 lead at the 11:37 mark. During the run, five different Eagles scored, while Cooper notched three of her 12 assists.
The Eagles utilized another run later in the half to extend their lead to 22. After going nearly five minutes without scoring, Saint Martin's tallied 11 points in the final three minutes of the first half to cut its deficit to 13 (37-24) before intermission.
Piper hit three-consecutive baskets to start the second half, giving Eastern a 44-26 advantage. The Eagles continued to cruise throughout the second half, leading by as many as 30.
Eastern's post players had a significant impact on the defensive end, as Carrie Ojeda and Courtney Nolen combined for five blocks and 11 rebounds. As a team, the Eagles had a total of seven blocks, compared to just one for SMU.
EWU will be back on Reese on Wednesday (Dec. 15) when they take on UC-Irvine at 7:30 p.m., as part of a doubleheader with the EWU men's basketball team.