Eagles Host Willamette in Final Game Before Big Sky Play Begins

Senior Kyla Evans looking to break Eastern's all-time three point scoring record against Bearcats

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Upcoming Games

EWU vs. Willamette
Thursday, Dec. 30 - 7:05 p.m.
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

The Eastern Washington University women's basketball team returns to Reese Court after a more than a week off from competition. Eastern hosts Division III Willamette on Thursday (Dec. 30) at 7:05 p.m., in its final non-conference matchup before the team embarks on the 2010-11 Big Sky season.

The Eagles enter the game with a 3-8 overall record, and all three of those wins have come on Reese Court. The Eagles dropped their two most recent contests prior to Christmas break, but both of those games on the road came down to the wire. The Eagles trailed San Diego by just one point with 5:33 remaining on the clock, but EWU then missed eight of its final nine shot attempts, and USD made three field goals and 6-of-8 free throws to seal the 72-61 victory.

When Eastern played Oregon State on Dec. 21, the Eags had a chance to tie the game with less than a minute remaining when junior Brianne Ryan made a nifty steal and then drove hard to the basket on the opposite end. Her layup in traffic bounced off the rim, but senior Julie Piper was able to corral the offensive rebound. However, her attempt at a put back was also unsuccessful. Eastern committed a quick foul after the Beavers regained possession and OSU's Alexis Bostick made her first free throw to put the home team up 64-60 with 19 ticks remaining. She missed the second, but made up for it with a steal at the other end of the floor, giving Oregon State the narrow win.

The Eagles hope to reverse their luck on Thursday when they face Willamette, which is 1-7 in the 2010-11 season. The Bearcats are a member of the NCAA Division III Northwest Conference. Head coach Anne Lapray is in her second year as at the helm of the program. She returned four starters from her 2009-10 squad, and also brought in nine newcomers.

This season, the Bearcats' leading scorer is senior Alex Zennan, who averages 11.4 points per game on 33 percent shooting from the field. Junior Kaileigh Westermann is just shy of averaging a double-double with 9.3 points and 9.6 rebounds per game.

Thursday's game will be an important night for EWU's senior shooting guard Kyla Evans, who is on the brink of tying Eastern's all-time career record for three point field goals made. With 191 treys thus far in her career, Evans is only four shy of the school record of 195, held by Stephanie Ulmer (2002-05). A native of Brewster, Wash., Evans is averaging 1.9 three-point field goals per game this season, but she has made four or more in a single game on 15 different occasions in her career.

Eagle Fast Breaks

  • Eastern has three players who are averaging 10 or more points per game after the first 11 games of the season. Julie Piper leads the way with 12.1, while Tatjana Sparavalo and Chene Cooper follow at 11.2, 10.4, respectively.
  • Piper and Sparavalo, as well as sophomore Carrie Ojeda, are also averaging at least five rebounds per game. All three players rank among the top 20 in rebounding in the Big Sky Conference.
  • Junior Chene Cooper has dished out a team-leading 64 assists thus far in the 2010-11 campaign. Her average of 5.8 dimes per game ranks second in the Big Sky and 23rd in the nation. Currently, she is also othe only player in the BSC to have a streak of five games with four or more assits. Her assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.0 (64-32) is the top mark in the BSC, while also ranking in the top 50 in Division I women's basketball.
  • As a team, the Eagles are second in the Big Sky in offensive rebounding at 16.0 per game. Eastern is eighth, however, in defensive rebounds with a 21.5 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 .385 (276-717), the team is at least giving itself ample opportunity for second-chance points.
  • In the last four games, in which the Eagles have gone 2-2, the team has shot 45 percent from the field (109-of-244). Prior to that, the Eagles were making only 35 percent of their shots (167-473). The Eagles have recorded a higher field goal percentage than their opponent in each of the last four games, and have earned a 66-46 advantage in assists.
  • The Eagles have impressed with their ability to take care of the basketball in the pre-conference season. EWU ranks first in the Big Sky in assist-to-turnover ratio at 0.9 (156-175), and third turnover margin at -0.6. As a team, Eastern averages 15.9 turnovers per game, which ranks 55th in the nation, while its assist-to-turnover ratio is also in the top 75 of all teams in Division I women's basketball.


Eagle News & Notes

Evans Dominates from Downtown
With 21 treys already this season, senior Kyla Evans has moved up to second in the Eastern record book for career three pointers made. She has 191 total in her tenure, which is just four shy of the current record of 195. She is also one of only two active players 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 eighth in career three pointers (191) and tied for 19th in career three-point field goal percentage (.382). 

Coop Hits Career Marks in Back-to-Back Games
Junior Chene Cooper had a career night in Eastern's 75-67 win over UC Irvine on Dec. 15 and in EWU's 73-44 rout of Saint Martin's on Dec. 11. The five-foot point guard scored 24 points on 10-of-19 shooting against the Aneaters, and pulled down a team-leading 10 rebounds in the contest. Her previous career highs in those categories were 23 points and eight rebounds. This performance came one game after she set another career high in assists. Against Saint Martin's, she had an astounding 12 dimes, which is the best single-game assist performance for any player in the Big Sky this season. Her previous career high in that category was seven.

Sparavalo Sizzles Off the Bench
Senior Tatjana Sparavalo has scored in double figures in seven of Eastern's 11 games, including the four of the last five. She is currently Eastern's second-leading scorer with 11.2 points per game, which she has earned in her 214 minutes off the bench. She recorded two double-doubles in the first two weeks of year, with 16 points and 10 rebounds against Cal State Fullerton (Nov. 12) and 21 points and 10 rebounds in EWU's narrow loss to Boise State (Nov. 20). In Eastern's recent outing against San Diego (Dec. 18), Sparavalo led the team with 17 points, which included four three pointers.  Her three-point field goal percentage of .465 (20-43) ranks in the top 20 in the nation, and first in the Big Sky Conference.

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, as well as all 10 of the current season. She has started 92 of those 99 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). This season, Piper has had six double-digit scoring outings, and two of 20 or more points.

Coop Climbing the Charts
Just a junior, Chene Cooper has already cracked the top 10 list in one category of the EWU career record book, and she is quickly closing in on another. Cooper has 127 total steals thus far in her career, which ranks seventh in the EWU record book. Fifty-seven of those steals came last season, which is the seventh-best single-season performance in Eastern history. With 223 total assists in her career, she is only 17 away from the top 10 in that category, which is certainly a feasible goal as she has already tallied 64 in the first 11 games of the year.

Seven in Row for Ryan
Prior to Eastern's game against Saint Martin's, in which she scored just five points, junior Brianne Ryan had scored in double figures in seven-consecutive outings. Ryan is one of only two players in the Big Sky to have a double-digit scoring streak of seven or more games.  Her season high of 13 tallies came against Idaho, when she shot 4-of-8 from the field, including 2-of-3 from long range.

Notable Newcomers
Freshman Aubrey Ashenfelter has seen minutes in every game of the 2010-11 season. As Eastern's backup point guard, she averages 12.1 minutes per game. A product of Southridge High School in Portland, Ore., Ashenfelter has scored 24 points for Eastern and dished out 14 assists. Freshman Laura Hughes, who came to Eastern from Richland, Wash., has also been an important player off the bench this season. Hughes provides depth in the post, averaging 2.0 rebounds per game and 2.8 points. She played a season-high 22 minutes against national-powerhouse Gonzaga on Dec. 3.

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. 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. She 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.

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.

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.

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.

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