Eastern hoping to use home-court advantage to snap five-game losing skid
EWU vs. Gonzaga
Friday, Dec. 3 - 7:05 p.m.
Reese Court - Cheney, Wash.
TV: Televised regionally by SWX (SWX Digital 6.2 in Spokane, 25.3 in the Tri-Cities & 23.3 in the Yakima area; Comcast 115; Time Warner 306; Charter 287).
(All home games and all Big Sky Conference games)
After five-consecutive road games, the Eastern Washington University women's basketball team will finally return to the comfort of Reese Court for its next three contests. Home court advantage could not have come at a better time, as the Eagles are looking for their first win since the initial game of the 2010-11 season. In order to break the current five-game losing streak, the Eagles will have to first take down one of the top teams in the country in Gonzaga. The Bulldogs, who have received votes in each of the first three ESPN/USA Today Top 25 Coaches Polls, will come to Cheney on Friday, Dec. 3 for the 38th meeting in history between the neighboring rivals.
Eastern is coming off a tough weekend in Boulder, Colo., that saw the team drop two narrow games at the 24th Annual Omni Hotels Classic. Despite out-rebounding their opponents 99-65, the Eagles were plagued by cold shooting, as they made only 44 of their 141 shot attempts (.321), and only 11-of-45 (.244) from three-point range. In the two games prior to the Thanksgiving tournament, Eastern had was shooting only 31 percent from the field. The team hopes the familiarity of Reese Court will help reverse the current cold streak. In the first two games of the season, which were played in Cheney, the Eagles shot 42 percent, compared to 39 by their opponents.
"The biggest issue for us is we have to be able to score on Friday," said EWU head coach Wendy Schuller. "Gonzaga has a lot of high-powered offensive players. They are long and athletic and know how to get points on the board. The first five minutes will be extremely important. We have to put the ball in the basket early on."
Gonzaga enters the game with a 4-3 record on the season, which includes back-to-back wins in its most recent outings against North Carolina Central and Washington State. The Bulldogs returned two starters and eight other letterwinners from the 2009-10 squad that celebrated one of the best seasons in the last decade at GU. The Bulldogs captured the West Coast Conference regular-season and tournament titles after earning flawless 14-0 record in league play. The team then advanced to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen before it fell to Xavier in just the fifth loss overall in their memorable 2009-10 campaign.
"It's great to be home this week," said Schuller. "But unfortunately, we are coming home to play a team, that we think, is certainly one of the top 25 in the nation. GU is still kind of finding itself after losing some great players last year, but with one of the best point guards in the nation in Courtney Vandersloot, they are still rolling."
Vandersloot and junior forward Katelan Redmon have led the Bulldogs in the first seven games of the season. Combined, the two players average more than 34 points per game. Vandersloot is a two-time WCC Player of the Year and was one of 30 NCAA Division I players named to the prestigious John R. Wooden Award Preseason Watch List. In the first month of the 2010-11 season, she is averaging more than nine dimes per contest, and has also tallied a team-leading 22 steals.
Redmon is shooting 53 percent from the field, and grabs 5.7 rebounds per game, while 6-foot-2 junior Kayla Standish is also a force on the glass, with a team-leading 7.9 caroms per game.
As a team, Gonzaga is shooting 44 percent, and out-rebounding their opponents 297-268. Thanks to Vandersloot, the Bulldogs also enjoy a 134-81 edge in assists, and 81-46 advantage in steals over their opponents.
With exception of a three-year hiatus from 1983-1985, the Eagles and Bulldogs have met at least once every season for the last three decades. The Bulldogs hold a 24-13 advantage in the all-time series, and are currently on a 6-0 winning streak against EWU. Last season, GU topped Eastern 87-61 at the McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane, Wash.
In games played in Cheney, the Bulldogs own a very slight 10-7 edge on Eastern. In 2007, the Eagles forced overtime at Reese Court, but ended up falling by just one point (103-102). The last time EWU beat Gonzaga was back in 2004 when the teams met at the Spokane Arena, and Eastern prevailed with a 72-69 victory.
Eagle Fast Breaks
- Eastern has three players who are averaging 10 or more points per game after the first month of the season. Julie Piper leads the way with 11.7, while Brianne Ryan and Tatjana Sparavalo follow with 11.0 and 10.5 ppg, respectively.
- Those same three Eagles, Piper, Ryan and Sparavalo, are also averaging at least six rebounds a game. Sophomore Carrie Ojeda joins that group with her 6.0 caroms per contest. She also leads the team in blocks with five.
- Three Eagles have registered one or more double doubles this season. Brianne Ryan and Tatjana Sparavalo each have two, while Julie Piper has earned one. All three players are among the top 15 in the Big Sky in rebounding, while Piper ranks in the top 10 in scoring as well.
- Junior Chene Cooper has dished out a team-leading 26 assists thus far in the 2010-11 season. Her average of 4.3 per game ranks fifth overall in the Big Sky Conference, while her assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.5 (20-9) ranks fourth. She is tied third in the league in steals with 2.2 per game.
- As a team, the Eagles lead the Big Sky in offensive rebounding at 19.7 per game. Eastern is last, however, in defensive rebounds with its 21.2 average. The team has five players who rank in the top 10 in offensive boards. Although this statistic is linked to a less than favorable field goal percentage .343 (137-399), 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. Prior to the game against Evansville, when Eastern committed a season-high 24 turnovers, the Eags had only 71 miscues on the season, compared to 87 total by their opponents. EWU's assist-to-turnover ratio of 0.8 (73-95) ranks third overall in the BSC.
Eagle News & Notes
Ryan Rules Rebounding
EWU's Brianne Ryan is the top junior in the Big Sky in rebounding statistics. She is averaging 6.2 boards per game, and has 37 total rebounds on the season. She ranks fifth overall in the Big Sky in offensive rebounds at 2.8 per game. She has led the team in rebouding in three of their first six games, two of which were double-digit performances. She had 11 against Boise State on Nov. 20 and 11 again versus Evansville on Nov. 27. These impressive rebounding numbers are not surprising, as Ryan is the daughter of one of the all-time greats at Eastern. Her mother, formerly Neil Ann Massie, 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.
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 181 in her tenure, and is just 14 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 (181) and 20th in career three-point field goal percentage (.379).
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 185 assists in her career, she is only 56 away from the top 10 in that category, which is certainly a feasible goal for this year, considering she had 89 last season as the back-up point guard. She is even closer to making her mark in the steals category, as she is only two shy of breaking into that top 10 list. Cooper has 117 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 has 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.
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).
Streaks to Remember
In 2009, Julie Piper had a streak of eight-straight double-digit scoring games (Jan. 30 – Feb. 26), which was tied for the fifth-best run in the Big Sky. As a team, the Eagles had a seven-game winning streak from Dec. 31 – Jan. 23, which was the longest streak for the Eagles since the 2002-03 season, when the team won seven in a row from Dec. 4 – Jan. 2...Notable "Non-Streak" ... Last season, not a single player led in scoring for more than two games in a row. Eastern should enjoy a balanced offense this season as well, as all but one of those many leaders is retuning for the 2010-11 campaign.
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.
EWU/GU All-Time Series Results
Year Result Score Location
1982 W 79-39 A
1982 W 75-51 H
1986 W 81-65 A
1986 L 55-57 H
1987 W 89-56 H
1988 * W 71-61 H
1989 # W 45-40 N
1990 ^ W 74-69 A
1991 + L 55-72 N
1991 L 61-68 A
1991 L 68-78 H
1992 L 71-73 H
1993 L 54-69 A
1993 W 70-69 H
1994 L 61-66 A
1994 L 58-68 H
1995 L 58-70 H
1995 L 62-71 A
1996 W 60-50 H
1996 L 62-73 A
1997 W 83-69 H
1998 L 46-87 A
1998 L 57-73 H
1999 L 57-59 A
1999 W 65-63 H
2000 L 44-61 H
2000 L 57-58 A
2001 W 59-57 A
2002 L 64-69 H
2003 L 64-71 A
2004 $ W 72-69 N
2005 L 51-72 H
2006 L 51-54 A
2007 L 102-103 OT H
2008 L 61-97 A
2009 L 56-71 H
2010 L 61-87 A
* Wheatland Classic (Cheney, WA)
# Wheatland Classic (Moscow, ID)
^ Wheatland Classic (Spokane, WA)
+ Wheatland Classic (Pullman, WA)
$ Played at Spokane Arena (Spokane, WA)