Feb. 5, 2007
Eastern Washington returns to action this week, taking on Weber State in a Big Sky Conference game at 6:05 p.m. PT on Thursday (Feb. 8). The Eagles (7-16, 2-8 BSC) are coming off of a pair of tough defeats to Montana State and Montana, while the Wildcats (13-10, 8-2 BSC) fell at Northern Arizona in their last contest to drop out of first place in the Big Sky Conference and into a second-place tie with the Lumberjacks.
The Eagles are looking to finish out the 2006-07 season strong, as Eastern Washington plays three of their remaining six regular-season games away from Cheney and three at home, including the last two. Eastern is in a stretch of just two games in an 18-day stretch before it closes out the season with the normal two games a week the final fortnight.
"We can get a couple days off and rest and recoup a little bit and get some freshness back," head coach Wendy Schuller said. "We're continuing to work hard and get better at some things that we know we need to get better at. We just don't have that maturity level yet where we understand, okay, this is crunch time, we need a stop right now or, this is crunch time, we need to score. We've got to find a way to get a great shot and, if we need to get an offensive rebound, we have to do that. Right now, there is not that sense of urgency."
Last week, Eastern dropped a 72-57 decision to Montana State and fell to Montana, 71-53. In the MSU loss, Nicole Scott and Sydney Benson each had impressive games, as Scott scored 23 points, tied for the fourth-highest point total by an Eagle in 2006-07, while Benson recorded her fifth double-double in her last seven contests with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Against the Lady Griz, Eastern kept close the majority of the contest, trailing by just three (46-43) with 10:08 remaining before Montana pulled away for its victory. Scott led the team in points (12) and tied in rebounds (10), sharing that spot with Benson.
Weber State may have started the 2006-07 slate with a 5-8 mark entering conference play, but cleaned its slate and roared out of the gates with the commencement of Big Sky play. The Wildcats started league play with six straight wins and are currently 8-2 in the Big Sky after falling on the road to Northern Arizona, 73-57, on Saturday (Feb. 3).
That loss coupled with Montana's win over Eastern Washington the same day dropped the Wildcats into a second-place tie in the Big Sky standings with the Lumberjacks. Both squads are currently 1/2 game behind the 8-1 Lady Griz.
The Wildcats lead the all-time series with Eastern Washington, 41-19, after defeating EWU by a 64-52 score in Cheney on Jan. 26. Last season, WSU claimed 2-of-3 meetings and eliminated the Eagles from the Big Sky Tournament in the quarterfinal round, 74-69.
"Weber State is a senior-laden team that understands how to play and understand getting stops at big times and making big plays, so we know we're facing a very good basketball team who is in the hunt right now (for the Big Sky regular-season title)," Schuller said. "They are going to take every single game they play really seriously no matter who they are playing. We know they are going to battle and it's going to be a great basketball game."
Sydney Benson has had an impressive set of performances of late, having recorded double-doubles in five of her last eight games. The most recent one came on Thursday (Feb. 1) versus Montana State when the sophomore contributed 10 points and 10 rebounds to Eastern's efforts that night.
In the Eagles' last road trip to Northern Arizona and Northern Colorado, she averaged 12 points and 12 rebounds per game.
Her rebound total of 14 versus Northern Colorado is an Eagle season high.
She was also a perfect 14-of-14 from the free throw line that week and made 16 straight overall before that streak was snapped. Last week she had two of the best free throw shooting performances of the season for the Eagles, nailing all six shots against Montana State and all four versus Montana.
Against UNC, she helped the Eagles narrowly miss tying the school record for free throw percentage. Eastern hit on 19-of-20 shots from the charity stripe in that contest (the Eagles made 20-of-20 in a 62-56 win at Idaho on Jan. 27, 1984). Benson hit on 8-of-8 in that contest.
Phynique Allen had an outstanding game on Jan. 13 versus Portland State, as the sophomore set season highs for the Eagles in points scored with 26 and free throw percentage after nailing all 10 attempted. The last Eagle to make 100 percent of her free throws while attempting 10 or more was Kathleen Nygaard, as she hit on 10-of-10 in a 61-60 win over Portland on Dec. 30, 2001.
Allen also has earned season-high totals for the Eagles in assists (8) and steals (5), both earned versus Portland State on Dec. 31.
Eagle freshman Nicole Scott set EWU season highs in Eastern's game on Thursday (Feb. 1) with Montana State in both field goals made and field goals attempted, as she hit on 10-of-23 shots that day and scored 23 points, tied for the fourth-highest point total attained by an Eastern Eagle so far this year.
Scott was hitting on all cylinders on Jan. 13 against the Portland State Vikings, as she hit on 8-of-13 shooting for a career-high point total of 19. Her previous high of 14 was set two days previously versus Idaho State.
Then, against Sacramento State on Jan. 28, she hit at an even higher accuracy rate (72.7 percent) by making 8-of-11 from the floor and accumulating 18 points.
Scott's five blocks at Portland State are the most earned by an Eagle in a contest so far this season. The total is also tied for the most attained by any Big Sky Conference player in 2006-07.
Catch (and Shoot) Chadd
Joanna Chadd has hit threes throughout her Eastern Washington career and this year is no different for the Eagle senior. She made six from beyond the three-point stripe versus Corban College on Nov. 17 (tied for the most by a Big Sky player in 2006-07) and made five each against Portland (Dec. 31) and Washington State (Dec. 2).
Overall, Chadd is shooting 35.7 percent on three-point attempts (51-of-143), the 74th-highest percentage of all NCAA Division I players. Her 2.2 made threes per contests ranks Chadd 66th nationally.
She is in fourth place on the single-season three-point field goals made list with a total of 51.
The senior is also a top free throw shooter, as evidenced by her 83.6 percent average (46-of-55).
What Free Throw Shooting!
Eastern Washington recently went on a hot streak from the charity stripe, as the Eagles have made 56-of-67 (83.6 percent) in a three-game road stretch at Portland State, Northern Arizona and Northern Colorado between Jan. 13-20. They then followed that up last week against Montana State and Montana by shooting 85.7 percent from the floor (24-of-28) in those two contests.
In the UNC game on Jan. 20, the Eagles made 19-of-20, narrowly missing tying the school record for free throw percentage (the Eagles hit 20-of-20 in a 62-56 win at Idaho on Jan. 27, 1984).
Earlier this season, the Eagles broke their school record for free throws made in their dramatic 103-102 overtime loss to Gonzaga on Dec. 9, shooting 36-of-46 from the charity stripe.
The previous record of 35 made was set on Feb. 5, 2004, in an 80-75 Eagle win over Montana State. The school record of 48 attempts was also set in that contest.
The 36 made versus GU is also the fourth-highest total in Big Sky Conference history.
Eagles Open League Play with Clutch Win
Eastern Washington opened up the 2006-07 Big Sky Conference season in dramatic fashion, pulling out a 69-66 victory on the road against Montana State.
In the game, the Eagles countered a 9-0 MSU run to end the first half with a 12-0 spurt early in the second stanza. After that point, the teams remained close down the wire, but Joanna Chadd erased Montana State's final lead of the game with a big three with 3:59 showing on the clock. That basket gave EWU a 64-62 advantage.
Chadd put the game away with a jumper with 21 seconds left, and the victory was secure when MSU's Alyssa Nelson missed a three-point shot at the buzzer.
After the Bobcats shot 48.6 percent in the first half, the Eagles put the clamps down and held MSU to just 17.9 percent shooting in the second stanza.
The win marked the fifth consecutive Big Sky season-opening victory for the Eagles.
Let's Party Like Its 19 ... I Mean 2006!
Eastern Washington completed an impressive win over the visiting Portland Pilots, 84-66, on Dec. 31. The game was just the fourth in history for Eastern on New Year's Eve, as EWU improved to 3-1 in games played on this date. The previous games on that particular date came in 2003 (a 72-69 win over Gonzaga at Spokane Arena), 2000 (an 81-58 home victory over Colgate) and 1993 (a 64-42 loss at Washington).
The game saw a number of impressive individual performances for the Eagles. Phynique Allen set (and still holds) Eagle season and personal career highs in both assists (8) and steals (5). Joanna Chadd tallied 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting (5-of-8 on three-point attempts) to mark the sixth time so far this season she has hit or surpassed the 20-point mark. Brittney Osborn set a career high in points with 20 versus the Pilots.
Eastern took control of the game right from the opening tip, taking commanding 14-0 and 21-2 leads. The Pilots would not drain its second field goal of the game until 10:28 had elapsed off the clock.
Northwestern State Goes Down
The Eagles ended a six-game losing streak on Dec. 15, earning a 71-67 victory over Northwestern State. Phynique Allen got EWU's scoring going by tallying the first 11 Eagle points of the night. She would finish with 16 tallies, at the time the second-highest point total of her career.
Brittney Osborn led the Eagles in scoring by tallying 17 points, marking the first time this season she has led the team in scoring.
Sydney Benson also had an impressive night, recording her second double-double of the season, contributing 14 points and leading all players with 13 rebounds.
Eastern would lead by as many as 12 before Northwestern State rallied late to tie the game at 61 with 3:34 left. At that point, Eastern Washington showed its resolve, scoring the next six points to pull away and put the game out of reach.
Eastern Washington Welcomes Southern Teams
Northwestern State (located in Natchitoches, La.) and Davidson (located in Davidson, N.C.) became the first two schools from the South to ever visit Cheney to play the Eagles, taking on Eastern in a four-day span in mid-December.
The closest school geographically to the South to ever play on the Eastern Washington campus was Texas-Pan American, who fell to Eastern, 59-45, on Dec. 6, 2002.
Eastern defeated Northwestern State on Dec. 15 by a 71-67 score to snap a six-game losing streak before falling to Davidson, 67-58, three days later.
Spokane-Area Rivalry: 103-102!
Eastern Washington and Gonzaga played a run-and-gun contest on Dec. 9, before the visiting Bulldogs pulled out a razor-thin 103-102 overtime victory over the Eagles.
Neither team had previously played in a game in which both squads scored 100 or more points.
The last time that Eastern Washington reached 100 points in any game came 19 years ago, in a 105-79 win at Portland State on Dec. 11, 1987.
In the 35 contests played between the teams, never before had even one team scored 100 or more points. The overtime contest was the first in the all-time series, as well.
The 102 points scored is still tied for the most by a Big Sky team in 2006-07, but is the most against NCAA Division I opposition (Idaho State did so versus Montana Tech and Montana-Western).
UW Visits for First Time in 16 Years
The Washington Huskies paid its initial visit to Cheney in 16 years on Nov. 21 and Eastern gave them all they could handle.
The Huskies took control the majority of the game, taking as high as a 15-point lead, but the Eagles would quickly respond with a 17-4 run to tie the contest at 42-all with 11:29 remaining. The teams remained close down the stretch before Washington claimed its 67-59 win. The Eagles trailed by just two with 5:08 left and four with 1:49 remaining.
An Impressive Start
The Eagles started the season with a 3-0 record for the first time in 22 years by sandwiching a pair of home victories over Montana Tech and Corban College with an impressive 20-point road win over UC Irvine.
Versus the Montana Tech Orediggers, Eastern used 12-2, 14-2 and 7-0 runs to claim the 75-69 victory. The final spurt came with the score tied at 67 just two minutes from the final buzzer.
A 22-5 run early in the second half versus UC Irvine allowed the Eagles to pull away from the Anteaters in their 80-60 victory.
Versus Corban College, Eastern Washington used a commanding 30-9 run to put separation between the two teams and won, 96-57.
Eagles Third in Big Sky Attendance
Eastern Washington has seen a high number of people attend games so far this season, as evidenced by its average attendance of 858, which places the Eagles third among Big Sky Conference teams.
The two Montana schools pace the league, as Montana has drawn 3,709 per contest and Montana State is averaging 1,326. Following the Eagles are Idaho State (835), Weber State (712), Northern Arizona (486), Northern Colorado (369), Portland State (364) and Sacramento State (238).
Roster Breakdown - Hometowns
Eastern Washington's roster, as always, has a strong Washington flair to it, as nine of the 14 players reside in the Evergreen State. Four of those are from cities located east of the Cascades: Katy Baker (Spokane), Anny Eller (Kennewick), Leah Gonnella (Spokane) and Jessica Huntington (Yakima). Of the remaining five players, one each is from California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Oregon.
Success in the Big Sky
EWU enters the 2006-07 campaign having qualified for the six-team Big Sky Conference Tournament in each of head coach Wendy Schuller's five years at the helm of the Eagles. Overall, Eastern has participated in seven consecutive tournaments after playing in just three the first 11 years the BSC sponsored women's sports.
Big Sky Conference Poll
The Eagles were selected fifth (tied with Portland State) in the Big Sky Conference's media poll, while EWU placed sixth in the coaches poll. The favorite chosen by the media was defending tournament champion Northern Arizona, while the coaches were not able to differentiate between defending regular-season champ Idaho State and Montana, as the two teams tied for their top spot.
And the Honors Go To ...
Eastern Washington as a team was honored over the summer, being named to the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Academic Top 25 Honor Roll. It marked the fourth consecutive season the Eagles had ranked third or higher in the rankings. That span included a No. 1 ranking in 2003-04.
All of the 2006-07 women's basketball home games will be audio broadcast free of charge, along with selected road contests. Announcing the contests are Alyssa Chambers and Brandon Hansen. For more information, access www.teamline.cc.
All games played either at Reese Court or on the road in Big Sky Conference play will be available to view on the Internet at www.bigskytv.org. The cost is $59.95 for a 2006-07 season pass for EWU games (which also includes men's basketball contests and archived football and volleyball games) and $99.95 for all Big Sky teams. Single games can be viewed for $6.95.