Eagles hit just 23-of-70 shots in loss to league-leading Bears
The Eastern Washington University women's basketball team put for a disciplined defensive effort against the Big Sky's current leader, Northern Colorado, but a bleak performance on the other end of the floor kept EWU from recording an important conference victory. The Eagles fell to UNC 69-59 on Thursday (Feb. 3) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.
With the loss, Eastern dropped to 8-12 on the season and 4-4 in Big Sky action, while Northern Colorado extended its league-leading record to 8-1.
Although Eastern hit only 9-of-37 (.243) shots in the first half, the team still managed to keep it close thanks to its unyielding defense. UNC hit just six shots in the first 14 minutes of play, but then made seven of its next 12 to earn a 31-22 advantage before heading into the locker room.
Eastern's field goal percentage improved dramatically in the second half, from 24 to 42 percent, but UNC's was also better, making it difficult for EWU to close the gap.
The Eagles finished the game shooting 33 percent from the field, marking the team's worst offensive output in conference play this season and third-worst overall in the 2011 campaign.
"The bottom line is, we missed a lot of shots," said EWU head coach Wendy Schuller. "You are not going to win games shooting 33 percent."
Although points were hard to come by for EWU, the team did impress, not only with its defense, but also in its ability to take care of the basketball. EWU committed a season-low eight turnovers, compared to 16 miscues for Northern Colorado.
"We played extremely hard, and our overall defensive effort was good," commended Schuller. "We looked like a much better team in the second half. We were making things happen and getting better shots offensively, but just couldn't get any of them to fall."
Eastern's underclassmen proved to be another bright spot in the less than favorable evening. Freshman guard Chenise Pakootas, who normally comes off the bench, earned a starting nod for Eastern, and contributed seven points and a team-leading five assists in her 30 minutes on the floor.
Fellow freshmen Aubrey Ashenfelter played 24 minutes, finishing with a career-high 12 points.
"We were extremely proud of our bench tonight," said Schuller. "A few players had to step up and play a lot more minutes than they're used to. It was a great learning and growing experience for them."
Senior Julie Piper was Eastern's leading scorer with 14 points on 5-of-12 shooting. She also hauled in six rebounds. Junior Brianne Ryan added 13 tallies, as well as six boards and sophomore Carrie Ojeda contributed seven points and three blocks.
The Eagles will be back in action on Saturday when they host Idaho State at 2:05 p.m. on Reese Court.