Dec. 15, 2006
The Eastern Washington University women's basketball team (4-6) snapped its six-game losing streak with a 71-67 victory over visiting Northwestern State (4-5) on Friday evening (Dec. 15).
"I'm glad we got the monkey off of our back," head coach Wendy Schuller said. "Northwestern State is a good athletic team and they play very hard, so it was a good win for us."
Schuller welcomed her old school to Cheney for the first time tonight. She started her coaching career at Northwestern State as a graduate assistant in 1993 and, by the time she left the school, she earned positions as an associate head coach and a senior woman administrator. The squads played last year in Natchitoches, La., for the initial time (the Lady Demons prevailed, 72-61, on Dec. 20).
Northwestern State head coach Jennifer Graf actually was recruited to play at the Louisiana school by Schuller. Graf would take her spot on the coaching staff when Schuller accepted the Eastern Washington head coaching position and would shortly accept a head coaching job herself, being named the youngest active head coach in the country two years ago (26 at the time).
Phynique Allen got the scoring going for the Eagles by scoring the first 11 Eastern points of the contest with a trio of three-point shots and a lay-up. She would finish the night with 16, the second-highest point total of her Eagle career.
Leading Eastern Washington in scoring was Brittney Osborn, who tallied 17 points, marking the first time this season she has led the team in scoring.
"Brit did a great job coming off the bench and bringing in a great deal of energy," Schuller said. "It's like having another starter on your bench. She has bought into the role of being the best sixth man in our league. You need to have those kind of players on your team and to have that positive attitude to embrace the role."
Sydney Benson had an impressive night, as well, recording her second double-double of the season, contributing 14 points and leading all players with 13 rebounds.
With Allen leading the way, the Eagles jumped out to an 8-2 lead and would gain as high as an 11-point edge before halftime (31-20 with 4:59 remaining and 36-25 with 2:20 showing on the clock).
After the break, Eastern would earn a 12-point lead on two occasions, the latter coming with 13:43 left in the stanza (53-41), and would lead by as many as nine, 56-47, with just 7:47 remaining. At that point, a 14-5 Lady Demon run would tie the contest at 61 with 3:34 left, but the Eagles pulled away for the final time with six straight points and held on for the win.
Northwestern State is actually the first team located in the Southern United States to ever visit Cheney and play the Eagles (Texas-Pan American is the closest geographically to the South - they played Eastern on Dec. 6, 2002, and fell to EWU, 59-45).
Eastern Washington will play at home on Monday (Dec. 18), taking on red-hot Davidson (9-2). The Wildcats are off to the program's best start ever and will bring a six-game winning streak into Cheney. According to the current collegerpi.com ratings (through Thursday's games), Davidson is the third-highest-ranked opponent on EWU's schedule, following Montana and LSU on that list. Tip-off is slated for 7:05 p.m.