November 12, 2010

Balanced Offense Propels Eagles to 80-70 Victory Against Cal State Fullerton in Season Opener

Tatjana Sparavalo leads Eastern with first-career double-double

With six players in double figures, and five others with three or more assists, the Eastern Washington University women's basketball team earned its first victory of the 2010-11 season, as it defeated Cal State Fullerton 80-70 on Friday (Nov. 12) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash. Eastern avenged a loss to the Titans from the 2009-10 season and moved its all-time record against CSF to 4-2. The Eagles, who are the defending Big Sky regular-season champions, have now won their season opener in back-to-back years.

"I was really pleased with our effort and performance tonight," applauded EWU head coach Wendy Schuller. "If tonight's offensive production is an indicator of how we perform this season, well it should be a pretty fun year."

As a team, the Eagles shot 48 percent from the floor (31-64), and had 22 assists with only 10 turnovers. The Titans, on the other hand, shot 37 percent (22-59) and had only 11 assists.

The Eagles were lead by senior Tatjana Sparavalo, who registered her first-career double-double. Sparavalo came off the bench to score 16 points and grab a career-high 11 boards. She also contributed four assists.

The Eagle bench as a whole scored 35 of the team's 80 total points, while accounting for 23 of Eastern's 42 rebounds. Sophomore Courtney Nolen played a major role in that statistic, as she had 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the field, as well as nine rebounds.

"We got into some foul trouble, and had to dig deep into our bench," said Schuller. "But our team is so competitive that we really don't lose anything intensity-wise or scoring-wise when our bench is in. I thought they did a great job of contributing. Courtney especially gave us a nice spark at the five."

"The production tonight from both our bigs was really encouraging," added Schuller. "Combined, Courtney and Carrie [Ojeda] scored 20 points and had 16 rebounds. If we can get that type of performance from them every night, we should win a lot of basketball games."

Ojeda was flawless on the offensive end, as she was 3-of-3 from the field and 4-of-4 from the free throw line. The Tacoma, Wash., native finished the night with 10 points and seven rebounds.

Junior Brianne Ryan had only one blemish in her line, as she hit 4-of-5 shots from the field and knocked down all three of her attempts from the charity stripe. The Lynden, Wash., native finished with 11 points, three rebounds and four assists.

"Brianne does a great job for us," said Schuller. "She plays so hard. There was one possession late in the game where I saw her running by me and the next thing I know, she was in the key getting a rebound. I have no idea how she got there so fast. She is a great defender and plays with a lot of intensity."

Besides the first 12 seconds of the game, the Eagles led throughout the entire contest. Cal State Fullerton pulled within five with 3:08 remaining on the clock, but Ryan scored five straight points to put the Eagles back up by 10 at 74-64. The team carried that 10-point lead through the final three minutes.

Junior Chene Cooper had 11 points and six dimes for EWU, while senior Julie Piper also added 11 points in her 17 minutes of play.

Cal State Fullerton's Megan Richardson led all players in the game with 23 points. Eleven of those 23 tallies came from the free throw line, while she also converted two from long range. Senior Lyndsey Grove had 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field and 3-of-3 from the line. Grove also tallied four steals.

The Eagles will return to action on Sunday (Nov. 14) when they take on Portland at 2:05 p.m. on Reese Court. The Eagles will look to open the season 2-0 for the first time since 2006-07.

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