With the possibility of finishing anywhere from third through sixth, Eastern battles for postseason positioning in last hoorahs at Reese Court
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EWU vs. Montana State
Thursday, March 3 - 7:05 p.m. PST
Reese Court - Cheney, Wash.
EWU vs. Montana
Saturday, March 5 - 2:05 p.m. PST
Reese Court - Cheney, Wash.
(All home games and all Big Sky Conference games)
The field for the Big Sky Conference women's basketball tournament has finally been set, but the seeding for the event is still completely up in the air. Northern Colorado has clinched at least a share of the Big Sky title, but Portland State, and Eastern Washington University's first nemesis on the week, Montana State are also contenders. The Big Sky Conference tournament will be held March 10-12 at the site of the regular-season champion.
The Eagles play MSU on Thursday (March 3) at 7:05 p.m. in Cheney. Eastern is currently in fifth place in the standings with an 8-6 league record. The Bobcats are tied for second and are two games ahead of EWU at 10-4. Last season, Eastern won the regular-season title with a 12-4 record in the Big Sky, and hosted the conference tournament for the first time in school history. Unfortunately, Montana State dashed Eastern's hopes for an NCAA bid, as the Bobcats knocked EWU out of the tourney in the semifinal round.
On Saturday (March 5) at 2:05 p.m., EWU will battle Montana on a poignant Senior Day at Reese Court. Just last weekend, Eastern spoiled Montana's own senior day when it defeated the Lady Griz, 71-63 in Missoula. That victory snapped a 27-game and 24-year losing streak for EWU in Missoula. The 2011 Eags became just the third team in school history to win on Montana's home floor. The last team to do it was the 1987 squad, which upset the Lady Griz, 77-74, in the championship game of the Big Sky tournament.
"The win at Montana was big for a lot of reasons," said EWU head coach Wendy Schuller. "It was really special for our seniors to do something they had never done before in their careers. But it also gave us a lot of confidence heading into the tournament. We proved to ourselves that not only can we win on the road against one of the best teams in the league, but we can win in what is certainly one of the toughest places to play in the Big Sky. That is a big deal for us considering what lies ahead in the next 12 days."
"Our goal from the start this season has been to win a conference tournament title," added Schuller. "We were very proud to be regular-season champions last year, but we had a bitter taste in our mouths at the end because we didn't take care of business in the tournament. This year, we are aiming for that title, and having confidence on the road is vital."
Montana is now fourth in the standings and only one game ahead of EWU at 9-5. Interestingly, the way the Big Sky schedule worked out this season, the six teams that have earned bids to the 2011 conference tourney (UNC, PSU, MSU, UM, EWU, ISU) will all be playing one another in the upcoming week. This final weekend of the regular-season is basically a preview of what is to come in the actual tournament. EWU plays MSU and UM, as does Portland State. UNC defeated ISU on Monday (Feb. 28), and the two will meet again on Saturday.
But with two games remaining on most everyone's schedule, there are dozens of ways the final standings can shake out. The possibility exists for Eastern to finish anywhere from third through sixth, which according to Schuller, doesn't make much of a difference.
"Unless you are one of those top two seeds that receive a bye in the first round, I don't know how much the rest of it [seeding] really matters," said Schuller. "In this league, anybody can beat anybody on any given day – and that has certainly happened already this season. It is going to be a great conference tournament."
In the first round of the tournament, the No. 3 seed plays No. 6, while No. 4 plays No. 5. The highest remaining seed from the quarterfinals will then play the No. 2 seed, while the lowest remaining seed will play No. 1. The championship game will take place on Saturday, March 12, with the time determined by the host school.
In Eastern's first meeting with Montana State, the Eagles struggled tremendously to find the hoop at Worthington Arena. EWU recorded its second-lowest field goal percentage (.275) of the season against MSU, converting only 19-of-69 attempts. The Bobcats also out-rebounded EWU, 51-40. Eastern did force 19 turnovers, and had seven blocks, but it was not enough to overcome the abysmal shooting.
"Montana State did a good job defensively, but we also missed a lot of easy baskets," said Schuller. "We had our fair share of good looks, but when you're missing layups and 15-16 foot jumpers, it's going to be hard to win a basketball game. We also have to be better in transition defense. Montana State is a well-rounded squad and can score quickly in a lot of ways, so we have to be tougher in transition when we play them this week."
Throughout the season, Montana State has boasted one of the most versatile offenses, as five of its players average double-digits. Junior guard Katie Bussey leads the way with 14.4 points per game, while Sarah Balian follows at 13.1. Balian, and sophomore forward Rachel Semansky, are also among the top three rebounders in the league, averaging 9.2 and 9.6 boards per game, respectively.
As a team Montana State is atop the Big Sky in scoring offense and rebounding offense. The team is also in the top two in field goal percentage and field goal percentage defense. MSU's Lyndsi Seidensticker is one of the top three-point shooters in the league, averaging 2.8 treys per contest on 46.4 percent shooting. The Bobcats hit eight three pointers against EWU on Feb. 24, five of which came off the hand of Seidensticker.
Montana State holds a slight advantage in the all-time series at 37-34. Eastern won both of the regular-season meetings during the 2009-10 campaign, but then dropped that fateful contest in the Big Sky tournament. Under Schuller, the Eagles are 9-11 against MSU and 6-5 when playing in Cheney.
In a complete turnaround from the Montana State game, Eastern played some of its best basketball of the year against the Grizzlies on Feb. 26. Eastern shot 47 percent from the field, including 8-of-18 from three-point range. Eastern held the Lady Griz to just 35 percent shooting from the field and 25 percent from beyond the arc.
"I felt as good about our team chemistry and togetherness after the game in Missoula as I have all season," said Schuller. "That is why we were good last year. We didn't have just one outstanding player, we had a bunch of players who shared the ball, scored when they needed to, covered for each other on defense and played together. We finally feel like we are back to that point now."
Eastern's high percentage against UM was even more impressive considering Montana has one of the toughest defenses in the Big Sky. The Lady Griz are first in scoring defense, allowing teams an average of 59.5 points per game, and second in rebounding defense, allowing an average of 35.6 boards per game. Montana is second in steals (10.8) and first in turnover margin (+3.4). Montana did force 17 Eastern turnovers in Missoula, and had a slight advantage in rebounds at 35-33, but EWU's complete team effort on the offensive and defensive end was enough to take down the perennial powerhouse on its home floor.
The all-time series between EWU and UM stands at 65-13, in favor of Montana. The Eagles have defeated the Lady Griz three times under Schuller, including a 76-64 overtime thriller last season at Reese Court. The only other victory for Eastern in Schuller's tenure came in 2006, when the Eags beat UM at home by another narrow margin of 58-56.
Saturday's contest will also be the last outing at Reese Court for seniors Kyla Evans, Julie Piper and Tatjana Sparavalo. Eastern will honor these three seniors, prior to tipoff at 7:05 p.m. EWU will also recognize Jessica Thielen, who served as a student assistant coach this year after suffering a career-ending injury last season. Just three years ago, in the first year of Evans, Piper and Sparavalo's careers, Eastern went 4-25 overall and won just one game in the Big Sky.
"The seniors this year represent a really special group of girls," said Schuller. "These players came in as freshman and were thrown right into the fire. They played a lot of minutes, and stuck with it through some very challenging years. They believed in this team and believed in each other and really stuck together to help turn the program around. It is going to be a very emotional day."
- Owns EWU career record for all-time three point field goals made (202).
- Owns the fifth, sixth and seventh-best single-season performances for three-point field goals made. As a freshman, she made 52 treys (seventh), as a sophomore 60 (fifth) and as a junior 58 (sixth).
- Only current Eagle to appear in the Big Sky record book, as she is sixth in career three pointers (202) and 13th for career three-point field goal percentage (.383).
- All-Big Sky second team in 2010.
- Named Big Sky Player of the Week on Jan. 25, 2010.
- Two-time ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VIII.
- Three-time Big Sky All-Academic.
- Has twice been selected as EWU's Scholar-Athlete of the Month.
- Named president of the Student-Athletic Advisory Committee for the 2010-11 academic year, after service as vice president in 2009-10.
- 2010 Big Sky Most Valuable Player after averaging 12.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per game during the 2010 Big Sky season.
- All-Big Sky first team in 2010 and All-Big Sky honorable mention in 2009.
- Named Big Sky Player of the Week on March 8, 2010.
- Three-time Big Sky All-Academic.
- EWU Scholar-Athlete of the Month for December 2009.
- Only current Eagle to eclipse 1,000 career points, which she did this season against Oregon State on Dec. 21. Piper is eighth in the EWU record book for points scored, now with 1,160.
- Appears in the EWU career record book in 10 different categories. She is eighth on the all-time points scored list with 1,160 career tallies, and 10th in field goals made with 457. She is sixth in rebounding (757), fifth in free throws made (243) and sixth in free throws attempted (332). She is also sixth in career games played, having appeared in 116 games throughout her four years.
- Piper has not missed a single game since the first time she stepped on the court as a freshman in 2007. She has played in 116 total games, and started all but seven of those contests.
- Piper has the most career rebounds (757) of all active players in the Big Sky, and is among the top five active players in terms of scoring with 1,160 career tallies.
- Selected as one of the 30 candidates nationwide for the Lowe's Senior CLASS award, which celebrates notable achievements of elite athletes in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition.
- This season, Piper has proved to be the most efficient senior shooter, as she owns the top mark for all seniors in the league in field goal percentage (.458) and free throw percentage (.852).
- Has ranked among the top five rebounders in the Big Sky all season, averaging 7.0 per game.
- Has set or tied her career high in five categories this season, including 23 points against Saint Martin's on Dec. 11 and 15 rebounds at Montana State on Feb. 24.
- Three-time Big Sky All-Academic
- EWU Scholar-Athlete of the Month for December 2010
- An international student from Novi Sad, Serbia, Sparavalo graduated in three years with a bachelor's in business administration.
Tied her career high scoring mark this season with 24 points at Northern Colorado. She has also set a career high in rebounding on two occasions during the 2010-11 campaign, with 11 boards against Cal State Fullerton (11/12/10) and Portland State (1/8/11).
Eagle Fast Breaks
Postseason Assurance: Eastern Washington, which currently owns an 8-6 record in the Big Sky, has clinched a berth to the 2011 Big Sky Conference tournament for the second-straight season and seventh time in 10 seasons under head coach Wendy Schuller. The tournament will be held March 10-12 at the site of the regular-season champion. The other five schools in this year's tourney include Northern Colorado, Portland State, Montana State, Montana and Idaho State. The final standings and seeding for the event are still completely up in the air. Right now, EWU could finish anywhere from third to sixth in the conference.
Top Three in Sky Statistics: In all games in the 2010-11 season, Eastern has proved to be the best offensive rebounding team in the league, averaging 15.8 offensive boards per game. The Eags are second in rebounding margin (+1.6), and third in both free throw percentage (.730) and blocked shots (3.8 bpg). When looking at league-only statistics, Eastern is among the top three in even more categories. The Eagles lead the Sky in offensive rebounds with 14.9 per game, as well as in blocked shots at 4.4 per game. EWU is third in scoring offense (69.9 ppg), free throw percentage (.750) and turnover margin (+1.4).
Eastern's Keys to Success: Come Out Hot - The Eagles are 10-3 this season in games they are leading at the half. Conversely, the team is 1-12 when they trail at intermission. Focus on Efficiency - Eastern is 11-2 in games where it shoots a higher field goal percentage than its opponent. EWU has lost 13 of the 14 games in which its opponent shoots a higher percentage from the field. Hold em' to 40 - The magic number for Eastern's defense should be 40, or rather, less than 40. The Eagles have won 11 of 12 games this season when its opponent shoots less than 40 percent from the field. When the opposition manages 40 percent or higher, EWU is 1-14.
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. Unfortunately, the other team with an equally versatile offense is Montana State, who EWU faces in the first of two games this week. MSU has five players who all average 10+ points per game. Brianne Ryan leads the way for EWU at 13.6, followed by Chene Cooper (11.8), Tatjana Sparavalo (10.9) and Julie Piper (10.8).
Injury Report: After missing 11-consecutive games in the middle of the season, junior guard Breauna Russell returned to the lineup on Feb. 12 against Weber State. However, after being re-evaluated by the doctor last week, Russell will miss the rest of the 2010-11 season due to a stress reaction in her right foot.
INDIVIDUAL (for probable starting five)
Chene Cooper is averaging 5.4 assists per game, which is second in the Big Sky statistics and ranks 25th in Division I women's basketball. Her assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.9 (145-78) is atop the Big Sky rankings, and is 34th in the nation. Cooper is the only player in the league to have had 20+ points, 10+ rebounds and 10+ assists at least once this season, and was recently named the Big Sky POW (Eastern's first of the 2010-11 season) after tallying 41 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists in Eastern's two conference victories against NAU (Feb. 17) and WSU (Feb. 19).
Brianne Ryan has scored in double digits in 23 of 27 games this season, including 14 of the last 16. Ryan turned in the single-best offensive performance of all players in league with 33 points against Sacramento State on Jan. 22. In conference-only statistics, Ryan is among the top three in league in scoring (15.9 ppg) and field goal percentage (.509).
Aubrey Ashenfelter has played in all 27 games this season, and recently made her way into the starting lineup. She averages 3.3 points, 2.1 rebounds and has dished out 40 total assists this year, the third-most on the team.
Julie Piper, the defending Big Sky MVP, leads all seniors in Big Sky in field goal percentage (.458) and free throw percentage (.852). She is also among the top five rebounders in the league with 7.1 boards per game, and has the most career rebounds of all active players in the Big Sky with 757 career boards.
Carrie Ojeda is among the top five shot blockers in the league, averaging 1.2 per outing. She is also among the top 20 rebounders in the Big Sky with 5.0 caroms per contest.
Tatjana Sparavalo has scored in double figures in 16 games this season. She has registered a team-high four double-doubles, and she ranks in the top 15 in three-point field goal pct. (.380), three point field goals avg. (1.4) and free throw percentage (.813).
Eagle News & Notes
Eagles Celebrate First Win in Missoula in 24 Years
The 2011 Eastern Washington women's basketball team celebrated one of the biggest victories in school history on Saturday (Feb. 26) when the team defeated the Montana in Missoula, 71-63. With the win, Eastern snapped a 27-game and 24-year losing streak in Missoula. The last time EWU won on UM's home court was in 1987 – Eastern's first year as a member of the Big Sky Conference. The Eags upset Montana, 77-74, in the championship game of Big Sky tournament. That win on March 7, 1987 gave Eastern its first and only Big Sky tournament title to this day. The 2011 Eagles are now just the third team in EWU history to accomplish such a feat, while head coach Wendy Schuller is just the second Eastern women's basketball coach ever to win at Dahlberg Arena. Former head coach Bill Smithpeters did it twice, once in 1980, and then again on that historic day in 1987.
Coop Lays Claim to Big Sky POW
For the first time in her career, Chene Cooper was selected as the Big Sky Conference Player of the Week for games played Feb. 14 – Feb. 20. This is the first weekly honor Eastern Washington in the 2010-11 season. Cooper, a 2008 graduate of Lakes High School in Puyallup, Wash., led the Eagles to an important pair of conference victories against Northern Arizona and Weber State With the sweep at home, Eastern clinched a berth to the 2011 Big Sky Conference tournament and improved its conference record to 7-5.Cooper averaged 20.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists on the week. She shot 42 percent from the field, and made 17-of-20 free throws for 85 percent shooting from the line. Against the Lumberjacks , Cooper scored a game-high 23 points - just one shy of her career high. She also had six rebounds, five assists and two steals. She hit two three-pointers in the contest, the second one a clutch shot from the top of the key that put EWU up by one point (55-54) with just under a minute remaining. Cooper went on to make 3-of-4 free throws in the final minute to seal the victory for EWU. In Eastern's win over Weber State, Cooper scored 18 points, another game high, and had four rebounds, seven assists and two steals. She hit 8-of-10 free throws, and had just two turnovers in 33 minutes on the court.
Evans Dominates from Downtown
Senior Kyla Evans hit five three pointers against Seattle on Feb. 8, and in doing so, broke the EWU all-time record for career three pointers made. Evans, who now has 202 treys in her tenure, surpassed Stephanie Ulmer, who owned the previous record of 195 career three pointers made. Ulmer played for Wendy Schuller from 2002-05. Evans had been just three three pointers away from the record for more than a month, but when a chronic back injury flared up just before the start of conference play, she was forced to miss eight games in a row from Jan. 13 - Feb. 5. The untimely hiatus didn't seem to affect the senior though, as she turned in the best performance of her season in her first game back on Feb. 8, going 5-of-8 from beyond the arc. Evans is 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 sixth in career three pointers (202) and tied for 14th in career three-point field goal percentage (.384).
Piper Cracks Top 10
This season, senior Julie Piper has moved into the top 10 in the EWU career record book in six different categories. In EWU's game against ISU on Feb. 5, Piper became one of the top 10 scorers in Eastern history. She is now eighth on the points scored list with 1,160 career points, and 10th in field goals made with 457. Piper is sixth in rebounding with 757 career boards, fifth in free throws made (243) and sixth in free throws attempted (332). She is also sixth in career games played, having appeared in 116 games throughout her four years.
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 165 total steals thus far in her career, which is third in the EWU record book. Sixty-one of those steals have come this season, which ranks third all-time in Eastern's single season record book. She had 57 steals last season, which was the seventh-best single-season performance in Eastern history. Coop has 304 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.
Freshmen Earn Starting Nods
For the first time in their careers, freshmen Chenise Pakootas and Aubrey Ashenfelter earned starting nods in EWU's games against UNC (Feb. 3) and ISU (Feb. 5). Pakootas, a 5-10 guard from Inchelium, Wash., started both contests for the Eagles, while Ashenfelter was on the floor to start the game 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 that kept Eastern in the game in the final minutes. 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.
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 among the top five shot blockers in the Big Sky and top 200 in the nation, averaging 1.2 blocks per contest.
Sparavalo Sizzles Off the Bench
Eastern's invaluable "sixth man," Tatjana Sparavalo, has scored in double figures in 16 games this season. She is currently Eastern's third-leading scorer with 10.9 points per game, which she has earned in 519 minutes off the bench. She is one of only six players in the Big Sky to have four or more double-doubles this season. 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. She has set a career high in rebounding on two occassions this season, with 11 boards against Cal State Fullerton (11/12/10) and Portland State (1/8/11).
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 (.458) and free throw percentage (.852). Piper also has the most career rebounds (757) of all active players in the Big Sky, and is among the top five active players in terms of scoring with 1,160 career tallies. Piper hit the 1,000-point mark this season against Oregon State on Dec. 21.
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 four of Eastern's contests this year.
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 also 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 played in every game of the 2010-11 season, averaging 16.6 minutes. She has earned four starts, including the last three in a row in conference play. A product of Southridge High School in Portland, Ore., Ashenfelter has scored 88 points for Eastern and dished out 39 assists, the third-most on the team. Freshman Chenise Pakootas, a native of Inchelium, Wash., has appeared in 20 of 27 games this season, and has earned a starting nod in four of those contests. Pakootas had to step up to help fill the shoes of injured players Breauna Russell and Kyla Evans (Evans has now returned to the lineup after sitting for more than a month). Pakootas averages 9.9 minutes, 3.1 points, and 1.8 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 2.1 rebounds per game and 3.3 points. She has played 204 total minutes this season, including a career-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 25 games thus far in the season, six different players have led the team in scoring. The same depth is evident on the defensive end, as seven different Eagles have led in both rebounding and steals. 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 27 of the current season. She has started 109 of those 116 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 15 double-digit scoring outings, and six with double-digit rebounds, including a career-high 15 in EWU's recent contest at Montana State (Feb. 24).
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 27 games this season, averaging 32.4 minutes per game. She has scored in double-digits in 23 of those 27 games, including 15 of the last 16.
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 serves as Eastern's invaluable "sixth man," averaging 19.2 minutes off the bench. She is the tird-leading scorer and rebounder on the team with 10.9 points and 4.9 caroms per contest. Sparavalo has also made the most three pointers of any player on the EWU roster (38). 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.
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.