November 2, 2007

Eagles Drop Exhibition Opener to Northwest Sports

Nov. 2, 2007

Box Score

The Eastern Washington University women's basketball team fell to Northwest Sports 72-61 in its season-opening exhibition contest on Friday (Nov. 1). The game was much closer than the final score indicated, as evidenced by the 16 ties and 13 lead changes in the game.

The teams had a pair of significant scoring runs early before settling into a back-and-forth contest until Northwest Sports pulled away in the last four minutes. First Northwest Sports went on a 10-0 run to go up 22-14, but Eastern Washington immediately responded with its own 12-0 spurt to grab a 26-22 advantage.

After that hectic pair of runs by the teams, the squads settled into a nip-and-tuck contest. For the next 16 minutes (4:40 left in the first half until 8:37 left in the second), neither team would be up by more than three points. That ended when Northwest Sports completed a run of five straight points for a 52-47 advantage. Eastern would then run off its own 5-0 run to tie the contest again.

Northwest Sports was up by just one, 57-56, with four minutes left but a 6-0 run allowed the team to pull away. The largest margin of the game by either team came at the end at 11, with the final five points going on the board courtesy of a quintet of charity shots.

The Eagles were led by Sydney Benson, who had a double-double (14 points, 13 rebounds). Two other players contributed double-digit point totals in Amy Bratvold (13) and Nicole Scott (12). Paige McGowan contributed seven rebounds, while Bratvold pulled down six boards.

Jessica Huntington set the Eagle pace in assists with six and also in steals with five. The assist total would have tied her career high, while the steal total would have set a new mark had tonight's game been a regulation contest.

Eastern did force 22 turnovers, but the aggressiveness but the Eagles did also commit 25 fouls.

"We want to be an aggressive defensive team," Schuller said. "I think that early in the year, we're just trying to feel out things. I don't mind that we got so many fouls on the offensive end because I want us to be an aggressive rebounding team."

The Eagles as a team were hurt by uncharacteristically poor shooting from the field, hitting on a 27.0 percent clip (20-of-74).

"Tonight was a learning experience," Schuller said. "Obviously, we need to shoot the ball better than we did. I thought that our shot selection was good, but when we get 15 more shots than they did, we should win the game.

"Our energy level has to be higher. We have to play with more defensive energy and intensity and to see more fire."

There were positives to take away from tonight's game, however.

"I thought that a lot of our newcomers played well," Schuller said. "Kyla (Evans) did a nice job shooting, and Amy was aggressive. Paige came in and gave us some nice rebounding."

Eastern Washington will play its second and final exhibition contest of the season at 7:05 p.m. on Wednesday (Nov. 7) against Central Washington. The regular season begins at home at 2:05 p.m. on Nov. 11 versus Montana Tech.

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