Eastern plays Seattle in non-conference matchup on Tuesday before trip to Ogden on Saturday
EWU vs. Seattle
Tuesday, Feb. 8 - 7 p.m. PST
Connolly Center - Seattle, Wash.
EWU vs. Weber State
Saturday, Feb. 12 - 6 p.m. PST
Dee Events Center - Ogden, Utah
vs. Seattle: webcast and live stats available via www.goseattleu.com
The Eastern Washington University women's basketball team is desperate for a win. After going 4-1 to start the Big Sky season, the Eagles have lost the last four in a row, including a heartbreaking overtime loss to Idaho State in its most recent outing.
"The loss to Idaho State was a tough one," said EWU head coach Wendy Schuller. "It is hard to swallow when you feel you play well enough to win, but still don't. The games this week are important for us to stop the bleeding in a sense. We need to get ourselves back on track."
Although Eastern is in the heart of the Big Sky season, and focused on getting one of six coveted spots in the postseason tournament, EWU will have a chance to work out some kinks against a non-conference opponent before it dives back into league play.
Eastern takes on Seattle tonight (Tuesday, Feb. 8) at 7 p.m. at the Connolly Center in Seattle, Wash. The Redhawks enter the game with a 6-17 record. Although not a stellar season record, one of Seattle's six wins came against the Big Sky's current leader, Montana State. SU defeated the Bobcats, 66-56 in late November.
The Eagles and Redhawks have shared six other opponents already this season, including Cal St. Fullerton, San Diego, Portland, Boise State, Idaho and Gonzaga. With exception of Cal St. Fullerton, the Eagles lost all five of their games with the aforementioned schools. Seattle lost four of the six matchups. They beat Portland (61-58) and Idaho (62-43).
Eastern and Seattle have met eight times throughout history. The Redhawks hold a slight 5-3 advantage in the all-time series, but Eastern is the most recent victor, having defeated SU just last season by a significant 67-50 margin.
Following its mid-week game on the west side, Eastern will get back into Big Sky action with a game against Weber State on Saturday (Feb. 12). This will be the first meeting of the year between EWU and WSU.
The Wildcats are 5-15 on the season and 1-7 in league play. Although Eastern is three games ahead of WSU in the standings right now, this game could prove to be highly important at the end of the regular season.
"This game is vital because WSU is a team we are competing with for a tournament spot," said Schuller. "Being able to get a leg up on them would be great."
Weber State is led this season by senior forward Caitlin Anderson. She averages 13.3 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. WSU's Megan Patterson also averages double-digits with 12.1 points per game. As a team, the Wildcats possess one of the toughest defense's in the league, holding teams to 64.2 points per game, and allowing only 36 rebounds, which is the second-best in the Big Sky.
"One thing we know about Weber State, is they are a much better team than their record indicates," said Schuller. "Although they have won only one game in conference, the ones they've lost have been by pretty small margins. We know they are going to play tough and defend extremely well. They have always been a very gritty team, and we will have to bring our A game."
The Wildcats lead the all-time series with EWU, 44-23, but Eastern has won the last four meetings in a row. In the most recent contest, EWU topped Weber State on the road, 70-56. The previous year, Eastern won in Ogden, 82-68, which was the team's first victory at the Dee Events Center since the 1987-88 season.
Under Schuller, the Eagles are 7-15 against WSU and 2-9 in games played in Ogden.
Eagle Fast Breaks
Top Three in Sky Statistics: Eastern is the best offensive rebounding team in the league with 16.2 offensive boards per game. The Eags are third in scoring offense (69.7 ppg), free throw percentage (.726), rebounding margin (+2.3) and turnover margin (+1.8)
Keys to Success: Come Out Hot - The Eagles are 8-3 this season in games they are leading at the half. The team is 0-10 when they are trailing at intermission. Focus on Efficiency - Eastern is also 8-2 in games where it shoots a higher field goal percentage than its opponent. When the opposing team turns in a better FG pct., EWU is 0-11. Hold em' to 40 - The magic number for Eastern's defense should be 40, or rather, less than 40. The Eagles have won eight of 10 ten games in which its oppoent shoots less than 40 percent from the field. When the opposition manages 40 percent or higher, EWU is 0-12.
Distributing the Wealth: Eastern is one of only two teams in the Big Sky to have at least four players with double-digit scoring averages (Montana State has five). Brianne Ryan leads the way for EWU at 14.2, followed by Tatjana Sparavalo (11.5), Julie Piper (11.34 and Chene Cooper (10.7).
Perils from the Perimeter: Eastern has struggled from three-point range on both ends of the floor this season. As a team, Eastern ranks eighth in the Big Sky Conference in three-point field goal percentage, and ninth in three-point field goal percentage defense. EWU's opponents are knocking down 37 percent of its perimeter shots, while the Eagles themselves make only 30 percent of their long-range shots.
Injury Report: Eastern has two players who are currently sidelined due to injury. Breauna Russell has missed the last 10 games due to a stress reaction in her right foot. Russell is listed as day-to-day. Senior guard Kyla Evans has been out for six of the last eight games as a result of ongoing pain in her back. She was cleared to play this week, but having missed several weeks of practice, her minutes will be limited.
Chene Cooper is averaging 5.5 assists per game, which ranks 18th in Division I women's basketball. That average is the best in the Big Sky, as is her assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.9 (116-60). Cooper is the only player in the league to have had 20+ points, 10+ rebounds and 10+ assists at least once this season.
Brianne Ryan has scored in double digits in 18 of 21 games this season, including the last 10 in a row, which makes her one of only three players in the Big Sky have a double-digit scoring streak of 10 or more games. Ryan turned in the single-best offensive performance of all players in Bleague with 33 points against Sacramento State on Jan. 22. In conference only statistics, Ryan leads the league in scoring at 18.4 ppg. In all games of the 2010-11 season, Ryan ranks sixth in the Big Sky at 14.2. She is shooting 49 percent from the field, which ranks 73rd in the nation and third overall in the Big Sky Conference.
Tatjana Sparavalo has scored in double figures in 14 games this season. She is one of only four players in the Big Sky to have at least four double-doubles, and she ranks in the top 15 in the Big Sky in rebounding (5.4), three-point field goal percentage (.395) and free throw percentage (.811). She is among the top 20 in scoring, averaging 11.4 points per game.
Julie Piper, the defending Big Sky MVP, leads all seniors in Big Sky in field goal percentage (.480) and free throw percentage (.830). She is also among the top five rebounders in the league with 7.0 boards per game.
Carrie Ojeda has played a pivotal role in Eastern's defensive effort this season. Ojeda is among the top 20 rebounders in the Big Sky, averaging 4.9 caroms per contest. She is fifth in the league and among the top 175 in the nation in blocked shots, averaging 1.2 per game.
Eagle News & Notes
Freshmen Earn Starting Nods
For the first time in their careers, freshmen Chenise Pakootas and Aubrey Ashenfelter earned starting nods last weekend in EWU's games against UNC and ISU. Pakootas, a 5-10 guard from Inchelium, Wash., started both contests for the Eagles, while Ashenfelter was one of five starters on the floor against Idaho State. Ashenfelter, a 6-0 guard from Portland, Ore., played a career-high 31 minutes against the Bengals. She finished with 11 points, which included two clutch three pointers. She also had three assists and three steals. Pakootas averaged 22.0 minutes per game over the weekend. She had a career-high five assists against UNC, while also chipping in seven points.
Piper Cracks Top 10
This season, senior Julie Piper has moved into the top 10 in the EWU career record book in five different categories. Just last weekend in EWU's game against ISU, Piper became one of the top 10 scoreres in Eastern history. She is now ninth on the points scored list with 1,108 career points, and 10th in field goals made with 435. Piper is seventh in rebounding with 711 career boards, fifth in free throws made (235) and sixth in free throws attempted (324).
Ojeda Turns it On
Carrie Ojeda recorded her first-career double-double on Jan. 27 against Portland State. She had 11 points and a team-leading 12 rebounds in EWU's narrow 77-70 loss to the Vikings. Both were career highs for the sophomore forward. She is now one of five Eagles to register at least one double-double in 2010-11. Ojeda is also in the top five shot blockers in the Big Sky, averaging 1.2 per contest.
Ryan Delivers Top Offensive Performance in Big Sky
Junior Brianne Ryan poured in a career-high 33 points against Sacramento State on Jan. 22. She converted 14-of-18 shot from the field, which is also a career high in field goals made for the junior. Her 33 tallies was only five shy of the EWU school record for points in a single game, held by Vanessa Jones (1989-1991), who scored 38 against Lewis-Clark on Dec. 5, 1990. It is also the single-best offensive performance, in terms of points and field goals made, for any player in the Big Sky this season. Ryan has scored in double digits in all but three of Eastern's contests this year, including the last 10 in a row.
Coop Climbing the Charts
Just a junior, Chene Cooper has already cracked the top 10 list in two categories of the EWU career record book. Cooper has 150 total steals thus far in her career, which is third in the EWU record book. Fifty-seven of those steals came last season, which was the seventh-best single-season performance in Eastern history. She already has 46 in the 2010-11 campaign. Coop has 275 total assists in her career, which ranks ninth in the record book. She has had two games this season with 10+ assists, including a career-high 14 against Sacramento State on Jan. 22. That passing performance was the best turned in by any player in the Big Sky this season.
Piper Rules Big Sky's Senior Class
Julie Piper has proved to be the most efficient senior shooter in the Big Sky Conference at this point in the season, as she owns the top mark for all seniors in the league in field goal percentage (..480) and free throw percentage (.830). Piper also has the most career rebounds (711) of all active players in the Big Sky, and is one of seven active players to have 1,000+ points in her career. Piper hit the 1,000-point mark this season, and now has 1,108 tallies in her career.
Sparavalo Sizzles Off the Bench
Eastern's invaluable "sixth man," Tatjana Sparavalo, has scored in double figures in 14 games this season, including the last seven of the last nine. She is currently Eastern's second-leading scorer with 11.5 points per game, which she has earned in 415 minutes off the bench. She has recorded four double-doubles in 2010-11, an accomplishment only three other players in the Big Sky have reached. She tied her career high scoring mark with 24 points in Eastern's narrow 75-68 loss at Northern Colorado. She had four three pointers in that contest.
Evans Dominates from Downtown
With 22 treys this season, senior Kyla Evans has moved up to second in the Eastern record book for career three pointers made. She has 192 total in her tenure, which is just three shy of the current record of 195. She is also one of only four 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 (192) and tied for 20th in career three-point field goal percentage (.379).
One Night, Two Career Highs for Coop
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 Anteaters, and pulled down a team-leading 10 rebounds in the contest. Her previous career highs in those categories were 23 points and eight rebounds.
Freshman Aubrey Ashenfelter has seen minutes in every game of the 2010-11 season. As Eastern's backup point guard, she averages 16.2 minutes per game. A product of Southridge High School in Portland, Ore., Ashenfelter averages 3.4 points per game for Eastern and has dished out 36 assists, the second-most on the team. Freshman Chenise Pakootas, a native of Inchelium, Wash., has appeared in 14 of 21 games this season, including two starts against UNC (Feb. 3) and ISU (Feb.5). Pakootas has stepped up to help fill the shoes of injured players Breaua Russell and Kyla Evans. Pakootas averages 11.2 minutes, 3.4 points, and 1.6 rebounds per game. Freshman Laura Hughes, who came to Eastern from Richland, Wash., has also been an important player off the bench this season. As Eastern's tallest player at 6-2, Hughes provides depth in the post, averaging 2.2 rebounds per game and 3.3 points. She has played 146 total minutes this season, including a season-high 22 against national-powerhouse Gonzaga on Dec. 3.
The 2010-11 Eastern Washington women's basketball team boasts one of the most versatile squads in the league. In Eastern's 13 games thus far in the season, five different players have led the team in scoring. The same depth is evident on the defensive end, as seven different Eagles have led in rebounding and steals this year. EWU has four players with double-digit scoring averages, and three players who average five or more rebounds per game. Each class (Fr., So., Jr., Sr.) is represented in the aforementioned statistics.
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 15 of the current season. She has started 99 of those 106 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 two rebounds in every game since Nov. 28. 2008 (2 vs. UNLV). This season, Piper has had 11 double-digit scoring outings, and two of 20 or more points.
Ryan Earns First Scholar-Athlete Honors of 2011
Junior Brianne Ryan was selected by the EWU athletic department as the Female Scholar-Athlete Award recipient for the month of January. Ryan, a product of Lynden Christian High School in Lynden, Wash., has a 3.20 GPA in interdisciplinary studies. Ryan poured in a career-high 33 points against Sacramento State on a blistering .778 percentage from the field. She was 9-of-9 to open the contest, and missed only one shot total in the first half. Ryan also contributed six rebounds and three assists in that contest. Ryan led the Eagles in scoring in five of Eastern's seven games during the month of January. She averaged 20.3 points per game on 60 percent shooting and had the second-most assists on the team with 14. She also averaged 4.6 boards per game during the month. Ryan has started and played in all 21 games this season, averaging 32.1 minutes per game. She has scored in double-digits in 18 of those 21 games, including the last 10 in a row; a streak earned by only two other players in the Big Sky Conference. In league-only statistics, she leads the Big Sky with 18.4 points per game, and her field goal percentage of .542 is fourth overall in the conference.
Sparavalo Earns December Scholar-Athlete Honors
Senior Tatjana Sparavalo was selected as EWU's Female Scholar-Athlete of the Month for December. Sparavalo, a native of Novi Sad, Serbia, earned her bachelor's degree from Eastern in just three years. With a 3.62 cumulative GPA, she graduated cum laude in 2010 with a degree in business administration. She is currently working on her master's in business at EWU. One of three seniors on the 2010-11 squad, Sparavalo has provided incredible leadership on and off the court. She serves as Eastern's invaluable "sixth man," averaging 19.9 minutes off the bench. She is the second-leading scorer and rebounder on the team with 12.2 points and 5.6 caroms per contest. Sparavalo has also made the most three pointers of any player on the EWU roster (31). Eleven of her 31 treys came in the month of December, and her percentage in the six games on the month was an even .500. Beyond her athletic contributions, Sparavalo has been named to the Big Sky All-Academic team for three consecutive years.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Accomplishments Under Schuller
- The 2009-10 squad won the school's first-ever Big Sky Conference regular-season title and hosted the league tournament for the first time in school history.
- The 2009-10 Eagles advanced to the Women's National Invitation Tournament, which marked the first national postseason appearance for EWU since 1987.
- Eastern earned an overall record of 19-12 and conference record of 12-4 in 2009-10, which were the best recorded by an EWU team since the 1984-35 season.
- Julie Piper was named 2010 Big Sky Most Valuable Player, becoming the first player in program history to earn such an honor.
- Schuller was selected as the 2010 Big Sky Coach of the Year. She has collected 113 wins at EWU, which is the second-most victories in school history.
- The Eagles have advanced to the Big Sky Conference semifinals in six of Schuller's nine years at the helm of the program (2002-06, 2010).
- For the past nine-consecutive seasons, Eastern has earned a spot on the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Academic Top 25 Honor Roll -- something achieved by only one other team in Division I history (Indiana State). Eastern has been among the top five academic teams in the nation in seven of those nine years, including the 2003-04 campaign, in which the team placed first nationally with a 3.63 cumulative grade point average.
- Two Eagles have attained ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America second-team honors -- Joanna Chadd in 2006-07 and Kathleen Nygaard in 2003-04.
- Kyla Evans received ESPN The Magazine All-District VIII honors in 2009.
- The past nine seasons, 74 players have earned Big Sky All-Academic honors, the most in the league.