Undersized Eagles put up respectable fight against undefeated Pac-12 team
Although it will go down as a loss for the Eastern Washington University women's basketball team, the Eagles gave Oregon State its toughest test of the season on Tuesday (Nov. 22) in a non-conference matchup at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.
The Eagles fell to OSU, 74-60, to wrap up their season-opening four-game home stand. Eastern will now head out on the road for three straight weeks, which begins Saturday (Nov. 26) at Brigham Young.
Coming into the game Tuesday, Oregon State (5-0) had won each of its first four contests by at least 20 points, and the Beavers had scored no less than 83 total tallies in those games. Eastern put forth a solid defensive effort against the Pac-12 team, but the size of OSU presented an unfavorable matchup.
"Oregon State has tremendous size in the paint," said EWU head coach Wendy Schuller. "We were able to get Patricia Bright (6-foot-4) in some foul trouble early, but they replaced her with Thais Pinto, who is 6-7. That's quite the trade off."
Bright and Pinto combined for six of OSU's eight blocks on the night. But despite the noticeable size difference, Oregon State only managed to out-rebound EWU by seven (42-35), while the Eagles held a 16-13 advantage in offensive boards.
"Our players did a great job of being aggressive on the glass," said Schuller. "Rebounding was something we had talked about all week. Our little 5-7, 5-8 guards were down there jumping and trying to get every board. It was rebounding by persistence more than anything."
Eastern also forced 17 turnovers in the game, which it converted into 23 points on the other end of the floor. But Oregon State had a 42-30 edge in points in the paint, and hit 7-of-13 3-pointers. The Beavers shot 51 percent from the field, and tallied 20 assists on 29 made field goals.
"The size gave us some problems, so we were trying to pressure the ball a little bit and make it more difficult for them to throw it into the post," said Schuller. "But they're very good at passing, and they did a fabulous job knocking down the open shots."
Despite converting just 11-of-35 (.314) field goals in the first half, Eastern was able to keep the deficit to single digits, as it went into the locker room trailing 38-29. The Beavers converted 58 percent of its shots in the first period, including five from long range.
In the second half though, Eastern improved to 40 percent shooting from the field, while holding OSU to 45.
At the 15:17 mark of the second half, OSU had built its lead to 14 at 50-36. But over the next three and a half minutes, Eastern went on an 11-4 run to pull within five at 54-49. Senior captain and reigning Big Sky Player of the Week, Brianne Ryan, scored eight of Eastern's 11 points during the run.
But the Beavers then scored 10-straight points on back-to-back 3-pointers and four made free throws to reclaim a double-digit lead, which they maintained the rest of the way.
Ryan, who was coming off a 30-point effort against San Diego, finished with 22 points on 8-of-15 shooting. She also grabbed six rebounds and contributed one assist and one steal.
"Brianne had another great overall game," said Schuller. "She logged a lot of minutes for us. She was a little discouraged after missing a couple of early shots, but I just told her to stick with it. She did, and that's when she got going. Brianne just needs to stay aggressive. She gets so many of her shots not off of set plays, but just off of playing basketball. That makes her very difficult to stop."
Senior point guard Chene Cooper was one assist shy of a double-double, as she finished with 11 points and a season-high nine dimes. Cooper had just one turnover in 34 minutes, and also notched two steals.
"This was a great opportunity for us to have a Pac-12 team of their caliber at our place," said Schuller. "The outcome wasn't exactly what we wanted, but we will definitely grow from this experience."