Eagles to Play 2 Games on the Palouse

Nov. 27, 2006

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The Eastern Washington Eagles are looking to get back on the right track following a 0-3 week which dropped Eastern's record to 3-3 on the young season. The squad will take two separate trips to the Palouse this week, taking on Idaho at 7 p.m. on Wednesday (Nov. 29) and Washington State at 2 p.m. on Saturday (Dec. 2).

In all-time history between the teams, Eastern leads the series, 31-24, and have taken 3-of-4 meetings. Last year in Cheney, the Eagles claimed a 65-63 win. In 2004-05, the teams met in Kennewick, Wash., and EWU won, 64-59. The 2003-04 campaign saw the Vandals win, 80-75, in Cheney, while the Eagles won the 2002-03 contest in Moscow, 73-57.

The Vandals are off to a 1-3 start. The squad started its season with an 83-56 loss at Portland before rebounding with a win in its first home game of the season versus Sacramento State, 57-48. Two losses at the Coors Rocky Mountain Invitational followed that win. The Vandals fell to host Colorado State, 88-68, and Weber State, 98-57.

Statistical leaders for Idaho include Katie Madison (14.0 points, 9.0 rebounds per game) and Charlotte Otero (82.4 percent free throw shooting, 2.5 assists per game). As a whole, the team is shooting 35.3 percent from the field, 21.1 percent from three-point range and 66.7 percent from the charity stripe.

Washington State leads the all-time series with Easter, 24-10. The Eagles have won 3-of-4 meetings, however. The last three meetings have been decided by a total of five points. Last season, Eastern won in Cheney, 57-54, while the Eagles claimed a 54-53 win in Pullman in 2003-04, and the Cougars claimed a 59-58 victory at Eastern the year before. The Eagles were victorious, 77-63, at home in 2001-02.

The Cougars are 1-4 with its lone win coming in its only home contest of the season so far versus Big Sky Conference member Sacramento State, 79-65. The losses came to Kentucky, Wake Forest, Portland and Santa Clara. Washington State plays host to Montana State (2-3) on Thursday (Nov. 30) prior to meeting the Eagles on Saturday.

Statistical leaders for the Cougars include Colleen Betteridge (3.0 assists per game), Nakejia Kelly (1.4 steals per game, 69.6 percent free throw shooting) and Marisa Stotler (11.2 points per game, 6.4 rebounds per game, 1.4 steals per game). The Cougars are shooting 37.2 percent from the field, 24.7 percent from three-point territory and 65.1 percent from the free throw line.

The Eagles are 3-3 after starting the season 3-0 for the first time in 22 years and then falling in three straight contests, once on the road and two versus national powers. Last week, Eastern held tough with in-state rival and perennial Pac-10 power Washington, falling to the Huskies, 67-59. The Eagles were down by just two with 5:08 left and four with 1:49 remaining.

Eastern's next two games took place at the UTSA Thanksgiving Classic. First up were the host UTSA Roadrunners, and the San Antonio school did not serve as hospitable hosts, defeating EWU, 77-67. The next day, the Eagles dropped a 105-52 decision to No. 9 LSU, a team that has played in the last three Final Fours.

The three wins to start the season came over Montana Tech, UC Irvine and Corban College.

The Eagles have been able to use runs throughout the season to help Eastern earn some wins and stay close to some tough teams. In the season-opening victory over Montana Tech, a trio of runs helped EWU earn the win: 12-2, 14-2 and 7-0 with the game tied at 67-67 with 2:02 remaining. The Eagles were in a tight contest with UC Irvine in its next game and used a 22-5 run early in the second half to pull away. A 30-9 run put separation between the Eagles and Corban College. In the close game with Washington, the Huskies had control the majority of the game, taking as high as a 15-point lead. In that contest, EWU used a 17-4 run to tie the contest at 42-all with 11:29 remaining. The teams stayed close down to the wire.

On the stat sheet, the Eagles are being led by Phynique Allen (2.8 assists per game), Katy Baker (7.3 rebounds per game, 81.8 percent free throw shooting), Sydney Benson (1.3 blocks per game), Joanna Chadd (13.0 points per game, 41.2 percent three-point shooting - 2.33 made per game) and Brittney Osborn (1.7 steals per game). The Eagles are shooting 39.4 percent from the field, 31.5 from three-point territory and 70.4 from the charity line.

Chadd has led the team in scoring on three occasions, while Baker has done so twice and Allen once. Baker set the pace on the glass three times, while Benson has done so twice. Allen and Ashley Knight tied for the team lead the other time.

The most points individually scored in a game was attained by Chadd with 24 versus Corban College. She shot 9-of-14 in that contest for a 64.3 percent shooting percentage, including 6-of-9 from downtown. Tara Holgate has the highest shooting percentage in a game at 71.4 percent (5-of-7) versus UC Irvine. Osborn has had the best shooting night from the charity stripe, making all seven shots in EWU's season-opening victory over Montana Tech.

Benson and Baker both garnered 11 rebounds in a game (Benson versus Corban College, Baker against UC Irvine). Jessica Huntington and Allen have each recorded six assists in a contest, while Baker and Chadd led the 2006-07 team with four steals in a game. Nicole Scott blocked four shots versus Montana Tech.

Notes

• Eastern Washington is led in the scoring column by Joanna Chadd, who is averaging 13.0 points per game, which includes an impressive 24-point performance in Eastern's win over Corban College. Four other players are averaging eight points per game or higher: Brittney Osborn (9.8), Katy Baker (9.8), Phynique Allen (8.2) and Ashley Knight (8.0).

• Leaders on the glass for Eastern include Katy Baker (7.3 rebounds per game) and Sydney Benson (6.3).

Joanna Chadd is sizzling from the three-point line, hitting 46.7 percent of her shots from that distance (27-of-58). Overall from the floor, the senior is hitting at a 46.7 percent clip (27-of-58). She ranks 10th in the Big Sky Conference in three-point shooting percentage, but she has 13 more attempts than anybody else ranked in the top 10.

• Give me another shot! The Eagles pace the Big Sky Conference in offensive rebounds per game with 15.67. On the other side of the court, Eastern is second in defensive rebounds per contest (26.00). Katy Baker is fourth in the conference in rebounds per game with 7.3.

• Get that ball out of here! The Eagles are setting the pace among Big Sky Conference schools in blocked shots, averaging 4.67 per game. Individually, Sydney Benson has 1.33 per game, good for third on the Big Sky charts, while Nicole Scott is tied for the sixth slot at 1.17 per contest.

• Bring all your friends! The Eastern Washington Eagles are currently third in the conference in average home attendance, averaging 782 per game. The season high is the 1,198 fans who witnessed the Eastern Washington-Washington contest.

• The Eagles have compiled consecutive .500-or-better conference campaigns for the first time since the 1986-87 and 1987-88 seasons. In 2004-05, the Eagles went 8-6 in Big Sky play, 16-12 overall.

• 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 only playing in three the first 11 years that the BSC sponsored women's sports.

• The 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), Gonnella (Spokane) and Jessica Huntington (Yakima). Of the remaining five players, one each is from Idaho, Montana, Oregon, California and Nevada.

• The Eagles were selected fifth (tied with Portland State) in the Big Sky'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.

• EWU is coming off a 13-15 (7-7 Big Sky Conference) season, which saw EWU finish in a fourth-place tie in the regular-season standings. As the fourth seed, its highest seed in the tourney since 1995, Eastern fell in the Big Sky Conference quarterfinals to No. 5 Weber State, 74-69.

• After qualifying for three Big Sky Tournament semifinal contests the past five years, the Eagles' goal in 2006-07 is to claim the conference championship. EWU qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 1987 after claiming the Mountain West Conference (predecessor to the Big Sky Conference in women's athletics) Tournament championship with a 77-74 win at Montana in the title contest. The Eagles fell at Oregon in NCAA play, 75-56.

• Eastern Washington as a team was honored recently, being named to the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Academic Top 25 Honor Roll. It marked the fourth consecutive season that the Eagles had ranked third or higher in the rankings. That span included a No. 1 ranking in 2003-04.

Schuller on the Team's Current Focus

"Our own team is what we are concerned with first and foremost. We are now on a three-game losing streak, so we really want to get back to our playing style. We need to spend quality time getting better the next few days. We want to get our ship back on the right track and going in the right direction. If we can carry it over into our two games this week, then we will be happy."

Schuller on the Idaho Vandals

"(Idaho head coach) Mike (Divilbiss) is a hard-nosed good coach. He has a great understanding of the game and really does a good job to get players to play the way he wants them to play. They have a bunch of new kids, but I know they will be well-coached and will play very hard for him. We need to step on the floor and match their intensity level for 40 minutes."

Schuller on the Washington State Cougars

"It is always a battle every time we step on the floor with them. It is always to a bitter or sweet end. The key for us is to come out and play well, not for 30 or 35 minutes, but for 40 minutes. The Cougars are an athletic team. They are well coached."

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