Eagles can't find answer for Gonzaga's red-hot hands
After struggling from the field in its last five outings, the Eastern Washington University women's basketball team finally shot above 40 percent. But the improved offensive effort was not enough to take down the visiting Gonzaga Bulldogs, who rolled past Eastern 101-74 on Friday (Dec. 3) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.
With the loss, Eastern falls to 1-6 on the season, while Gonzaga, who earned its seventh-consecutive victory over EWU, improved to 5-3 in the 2010-11 campaign.
The Bulldogs shot a blistering 63 percent from the field, led by senior All-American point guard, Courtney Vandersloot. The Kent, Wash., native tallied a career-high 33 points on 12-of-17 shooting. She had 23 of her game-high 33 points in the first half, which included a lights-out performance from beyond the arc. She hit all three of her attempts from long range. Vandersloot also contributed eight assists and three steals in 30 minutes.
"You can't say enough about the efforts of Vandersloot," said EWU head coach Wendy Schuller. "She is just a great basketball player."
The Eagles hung with Gonzaga for the first ten minutes of the contest, but the Bulldogs scored 14 points in the final three minutes to earn a 23-point lead at the half. GU knocked down 20 of its 28 shots in the first frame (.714), compared to 30-of-74 (.400) for Eastern.
The Eagles had four players score in double digits, including freshman Laura Hughes, who finished with a career-high 10 points and six rebounds. Freshman Aubrey Ashenfelter chipped in eight points on a perfect 4-of-4 in her 15 minutes on the floor.
"I was really encouraged by the performance of our young players," said Schuller. "You could tell Aubrey was a little nervous when she first stepped onto the court, but once she shook the dust off, she did a really nice job for us."
"Laura was a great presence inside," applauded Schuller. "She had a really nice week of practice and is already taking her game to the next level. She has a really bright future, which we thought she showed glimpses of tonight."
Junior Tatjana Sparavalo had 13 points and two assists for the Eagles, while junior Brianne Ryan added 12 tallies and three boards. Junior Chene Cooper tied her career high in assists with seven, and also notched 10 points.
Eastern's leading scorer and the reigning Big Sky MVP, Julie Piper, struggled against the Bulldogs, as she managed to convert just two of her 12 attempts from the field. She did grab a team-leading six rebounds – three on the offensive end and three defensive.
"Despite the outcome, I was proud of each and every player," said Schuller. "Everyone who stepped on the court played as hard as they could. Even in the last five minutes, when the game was pretty much out of reach, we still were going hard. We need that kind of effort every night."
The Eagles will have more than a week off before its next contest against Saint Martin's on Saturday, Dec. 11. Eastern will stay at home to face the Saints at 2:05 p.m.