Ryan has sixth 20+ scoring effort, but rest of team struggles against well-balanced Broncos
It was just too little too late for the Eastern Washington University women's basketball team. Despite a surge in the second half that saw Eastern cut a 17-point deficit down to seven, the Eagles fell to Boise State, 72-63, on Saturday (Dec. 17) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.
Boise State (7-4) jumped out to a 5-0 lead two minutes into the contest, and from that point on, Eastern Washington (5-6) was playing catch up.
"I'm disappointed," said EWU head coach Wendy Schuller. "We didn't come out with much energy and just didn't fly around at all. We did not play the way we're capable of playing."
The first half was basically a shoot-out between the two team's leading scorers, as senior Brianne Ryan and Boise State senior Katie Isham knocked down 4 3-pointers each. Ryan came in to the game averaging 18.8 points per game, while Isham led the Broncos at 15.9 tallies per game.
At halftime, Isham had 17 of her team's 38 total points, and Ryan 15 of Eastern's 31. The Eagles shot 50 percent from 3-point range in the first half, but made only four baskets from inside the arc.
Boise State opened the second half on a 12-2 run, and within the first five minutes, had built its lead to double digits (50-33). But at the 14:18 mark, junior Carrie Ojeda made her first bucket of the game, which finally shifted the momentum for at least awhile.
Senior point guard Chene Cooper picked up the pace for EWU, and led the team on an 18-8 run over the next nine minutes, which cut the deficit to seven at 58-51.
"Coop realized we needed to get some kind of energy going, and started making plays," said Schuller. "But you can't just play well for eight minutes against a team like that. Boise State is a good team with great posts and perimeter shooters."
With 2:22 remaining on the clock, Ojeda converted another layup to make it a two-possession game at 67-61, but Boise State's 6-foot-2 forward Kinzi Poteet answered with a layup on the other end. Boise State went on to make 3-of-4 free throws in the final minute, while Eastern missed its final three attempts from the field.
"They were making shots, and we struggled on the offensive end," said Schuller. "I also thought we avoided contact a lot. We should have been getting to the line, but were not being aggressive enough in the paint. Even in the second half, when we were playing better, Boise State shot 18 free throws and we only had six. They played with a lot of heart and energy today. We didn't."
The Eagles finished the game shooting 35 percent from the floor, compared to 44.2 for the Broncos. Boise State also won the rebounding battle, especially on the defensive end, as evidenced by a 28-19 advantage.
Ryan led all players with 23 points on 8-of-16 shooting from the floor. After making four 3-pointers in the first half, she hit only 1-of-4 in the second. Ryan has reached double figures in every game of the 2011-12 season, and has had 20 or more on six different occasions.
Ryan was the only Eagle in double digits on Saturday, as sophomore Aubrey Ashenfelter was the next closest with nine. Ojeda and sophomore Laura Hughes both finished with eight, while the two combined for 12 rebounds. Ojeda also registered a career-high four steals.
For the fourth time this season, freshman Melissa Williams matched her career-high in rebounds with a team-high eight.
Cooper tallied seven points and six assists.
The Broncos had four players in double figures, led by Isham, who finished with 21 on a 7-of-11 effort from the floor. She, like Ryan, had five 3-pointers.
The Eagles will have two more games before Christmas, starting on Monday (Dec. 19) at Pacific. Eastern will then return to Reese Court for its final non-conference game of the season next Wednesday (Dec. 21) against Idaho. Tipoff is at 6 p.m.