Jan. 10, 2009
In a year full of turnarounds for the Eastern Washington University women’s basketball team, the Eagles put together another impressive feat on Saturday afternoon (Jan. 10), defeating Weber State on the road 82-68. The win snapped a 22-game road losing streak the Eagles had to the Wildcats, dating to a 71-68 EWU victory on Feb. 13, 1988.
“It was really important for us to get the split on the road,” head coach Wendy Schuller said. “It was a great team performance today, and we had tremendous play from our bench. It was nice to get that monkey off our back.”
The 14-point margin of victory was Eastern’s largest in a Big Sky Conference road game since the Eagles won at Portland State by a 77-46 score on Jan. 15, 2005. It was also the team’s biggest win on the road in any contest since an 80-60 victory at UC Irvine in a non-conference affair on Nov. 13, 2006.
Eastern Washington was on fire from the field today, making 56.3 percent of its shots (27-of-48), its best shooting percentage in any game since the team shot at a 57.8 percent clip (26-of-45) in an 81-56 win over Portland State on Feb. 12, 2005. The Eagles also held Weber State to just 37.9 percent shooting (22-of-58) today.
The Eagles also responded nicely to a 71-54 loss to Idaho State on Thursday (Jan. 10), almost exactly reversing a poor shooting percentage (35.4 percent) as well as allowing their opponents to make more than half of their shots in that contest (53.2 percent).
“After a disappointing performance on Thursday, the players did a nice job refocusing and getting their minds on getting the (road) split,” Schuller said. “I am proud of our efforts, our performance, today.”
Also, Eastern’s was sizzling from the three-point line, against the Wildcats converting 58.3 percent of its attempts (7-of-12). The last time an EWU squad shot that well from outside the arc came on Jan. 10, 2007, versus Idaho State in a 76-69 home loss to the Bengals (Eastern also shot 7-of-12 in that game).
The Wildcats had complete control of this afternoon’s game the first 10 minutes, taking as high as an eight-point lead on three occasions (12-4, 14-6 and 16-8), the latter coming at the 11:24 mark of the first half.
The Eagles then put together an impressive, and game-changing, 18-3 run to take a 26-19 advantage with 2:18 left before the break. EWU made 9-of-12 from the floor in that time span (including converting eight of its first nine attempts in that spurt) while holding the Wildcats to just 1-of-12 shooting during that run. Nicole Scott and Tatjana Sparavalo teamed up for 14 of those 18 points (eight for Scott, six for Sparavalo).
“We on fire (during that run), moving the ball and getting nice dribble penetration before kicking it out to our shooters,” Schuller said.
Eastern would then keep Weber State (5-10, 0-3 BSC) at bay the rest of the way, not allowing its advantage to get below five. The Eagles would lead by as many as 17 on three occasions (57-40, 80-63 and 82-65).
Scott came of the bench for the first time this year and made 75.0 percent of her shots (6-of-8) and converted all eight of her free throws to score 20 points in the game, the third time an Eagle has hit the 20-point mark so far this year and the first time for Scott in 2008-09. She has now made 23 straight free throws and is shooting at a 88.9 percent clip from the charity stripe this year (24-of-27).
“Nicole knocked some big 15-footers down and responded well to coming off the bench,” Schuller said. “We also did a really nice job getting her the ball.”
Brianne Ryan scored 15 points today on 5-of-8 shooting from the field, a career-high total for the freshman, and grabbed eight rebounds. Julie Piper contributed a double-double with 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting and a team-high 10 rebounds.
“Brianne also did a really nice job for us defensively and had a solid performance,” Schuller said. “She’s been doing a really nice job for us.
“Piper was solid again and gives us so much energy on the glass.”
Other statistical leaders for Eastern today included Jessica Huntington (four assists), Pauline Ferrall (two blocks) and Chene Cooper (two steals).
“It was a great team effort today,” Schuller said. “We are not a team with superstars, and we understand that different people on different nights step up and make plays for us.”
The win moved the Eagles into third place in the Big Sky standings at 3-1, trailing just Portland State (4-0) and Montana (3-0). Eastern is now 8-9 overall and has doubled its overall win total from 2007-08 (4-25) and tripled its Big Sky win total from that year (1-15).
The Eagles now return to Cheney for four straight home games and will not hit the road again until Feb. 5. First up will be Northern Colorado in a 7:05 p.m. contest on Thursday (Jan. 15). The Bears (7-7, 1-1 BSC) play at Ivy League-member Columbia on Sunday (Jan. 11) before making the trip to the Eastern campus.