December 2, 2011

Sun Devils Shut Down Eagle Offense, as Eastern Drops First Game of ASU Classic, 74-43

Senior Brianne Ryan eclipses 1,000 career points, but Eagles convert just 2-of-19 from 3-point range in loss to powerful Pac-12 foe

In its second matchup this season against a Pac-12 team, the Eastern Washington University women's basketball team struggled severely to find the hoop in a 74-43 loss to Arizona State on Friday (Dec. 2) at the Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Ariz.

Eastern (3-4) will now take on Arkansas State on Saturday (Dec. 3) at 11 a.m. to wrap up action from the ASU Classic.

Eastern shot a season-low 27.7 percent from the field against the Sun Devils, and a bleak 10.5 percent from 3-point range. Coming into the game, EWU was the top 3-point shooting team in the Big Sky Conference, averaging 6.3 per contest on a 35.8 percentage. But on Friday morning, host Arizona State used its notorious pressure defense to shut down Eastern's perimeter game.

"Arizona State was being very aggressive with us defensively, and did a great job pressuring the ball," said EWU head coach Wendy Schuller. "When that happens, you tend to rush shots, and that's what we did. We had a few open looks that we didn't convert, but mainly, ASU was just doing a great job of contesting everything."

On the season, Arizona State has held teams to just 31.6 percent shooting from the floor, which ranks in the top 20 in the nation for field goal percentage defense.

"Coming in, we knew Arizona State was known for its intense pressure defense," said Schuller. "They stayed true to form."

Despite its shooting woes, Eastern was able to celebrate a significant individual milestone, as senior captain Brianne Ryan hit the 1,000-point scoring mark during the game. The 5-11 guard from Lynden, Wash., led all players with 13 tallies on Friday, bringing her career total to 1,010.

Ryan, currently the leading scorer in the Big Sky Conference, has notched 137 points already this season.

Another bright spot for the Eagles was the turnover battle, which EWU won after forcing a season-high 23 against ASU. The visiting Eags had fifteen steals to go along with a season-high eight blocks.

"The fact that we were able to force them into 23 turnovers was very positive," said Schuller. "We understand this is a team that is just bigger and more athletic than us, but I was quite proud of our effort. We played really hard. This is another great learning experience and hopefully we can use it moving forward."

Arizona State finished with a 43.5 field goal percentage, while knocking down 16-of-22 shots from the charity stripe. Eastern managed to get to the line just nine times throughout the game.

ASU also dominated the glass with a 55-33 advantage in rebounds, and had a 34-14 edge in points in the paint.

Senior point guard Chene Cooper tallied six points, three assists and four steals for EWU, while freshman forward Melissa Williams had three rebounds and three steals. Sophomore center Laura Hughes added six points and a team-high six rebounds.

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