Dec. 17, 2006
The Eastern Washington University women's basketball team (4-6) will take on Davidson (9-2) at 7:05 p.m. on Monday (Dec. 18) before hitting the road for its last contest before Christmas. Two days later, the Eagles play Saint Mary's (3-7), also at 7:05 p.m.
Davidson has never previously played in the state of Washington The Wildcats also play Gonzaga on Wednesday, as Brynn Kelly, a Ferris High School graduate and Wildcat senior, returns home.
The Wildcats claimed their sixth straight win on Friday, moving to 2-0 in Southern Conference play with a convincing 75-55 home victory over Furman. The school record for consecutive wins is seven, set in 1996-97.
Statistical leaders for the Wildcats include Katie Hamilton (12.4 ppg and 45.5 percent three-point shooting percentage), Brynn Kelly (5.2 rpb), Tia Washington (2.3 spg and 3.7 apg), Mercedes Robinson (0.5 bpg) and Danielle Hemerka (81.3 free throw shooting percentage and 52.9 percent shooting percentage).
The Wildcats are currently (through Saturday's game) the fourth-highest ranked opponent on Eastern Washington's 2006-07 schedule. Davidson is No. 50, trailing Montana (14), LSU (19) and Washington (49).
Davidson has played one Big Sky Conference opponent, falling to Montana, 68-61, in the semifinals of the Klosterman Buckeye Classic in Columbus, Ohio on Nov. 25. The Wildcats will serve as the first Southern Conference team to ever play the Eagles.
Saint Mary's snapped a six-game losing streak on Sunday, topping Cal Poly, 77-64, in the consolation game of the Flint Hills Resources Islander Classic in Corpus Christi, Texas. The meeting between the Eagles and Gaels will be just the third in history. Eastern claimed the first two games with the most recent coming by a 63-53 score in Cheney last season.
The Gaels are led on the statistical scoresheet by Maija Lahde (10.6 ppg), Eghosa Obaiza (7.3 rpg, 1.6 bpg and 42.7 percent field goal shooting), Lauren Shaughnessy (2.5 spg, 5.3 spg and 76.9 free throw shooting percentage) and Jontelle Smith (31.9 percent three-point shooting).
The Eagles are coming off a 71-67 victory over Northwestern State on Friday, as Eastern ended its own six-game losing streak with that victory. Phynique Allen got EWU's scoring going by tallying the first 11 Eagle points of the night. She would finish with 16, 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 ralllied 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.
Northwestern State (located in Natchitoches, La.) and Eastern's upcoming opponent, Davidson (located in Davidson, N.C.), actually are the first two schools from the South to ever visit Cheney and play the Eagles. 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 Washington came razor close to snapping its losing streak in its previous contest, falling to Spokane-area rival Gonzaga in overtime, 103-102. That contest saw both teams score in triple digits for the first team in either team's history. In the 35 games played between the teams, never before had even one team scored 100 or more points. The overtime contest was the first played between the teams, as well. 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.
The Eagles also broke the school record for free throws made in that contest, shooting 36-of-46 from the charity stripe, and had the fourth-most free throw attempts in Big Sky Conference history. The previous team record of 35 made was set versus Montana State on Feb. 5, 2004, an 80-75 Eagle win. EWU came within one of the EWU record for attempts, which is 48, set in that same contest.
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.
The Washington Huskies then paid its first visit to Cheney in 16 years and narrowly left town with a win. 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 to the wire before Washington claimed its 67-59 win. The Eagles trailed by just two with 5:08 left and four with 1:49 remaining.
On the stat sheet, the Eagles are being led so far this season by Joanna Chadd (15.3 ppg - seventh in the Big Sky, 90.0 percent free throw shooting - second in the Big Sky and 37.8 percent three point shooting - 10th in the Big Sky), Brittney Osborn (1.5 spg), Sydney Benson (7.5 rpg - tied for second in the Big Sky, 1.6 bpg - second in the Big Sky and 46.5 percent field goal shooting - ninth in the Big Sky) and Phynique Allen (2.7 apg). Katy Baker is fourth in the Big Sky in rbg (7.3). Eighth and ninth, respectively, in free throw shooting is Osborn (82.4) and Baker (81.8). Nicole Scott is seventh in bpg (0.9), while Holgate is tied for the ninth slot (0.80).
As a team, the Eagles lead the Big Sky Conference in rebounds per game (42.7), offensive rebounds per game (15.60), defensive rebounds per game (27.10), are second in points per game (73.2) and third in field goal percentage defense (40.2) and three-point field goal percentage defense (29.60).
*Chadd has led the Eagles in scoring in six games thus far this season. The season high for an Eagle is 24, scored by Chadd in EWU's 96-57 win over Corban College. She has also posted two 23-point performances in the team's last three games versus eastern Washington foes Washington State and Gonzaga.
* Katy Baker has set the rebounding pace for Eastern in five different contests, while Sydney Benson has done so in four other games. The season high for rebounds in a contest is 13, held by Benson versus Northwestern State on Friday (Dec. 15).
* The Eagles have been spreading the ball around, as evidenced by the fact that six different players have led the team in assists in a game so far in 2006-07. Phynique Allen is leading the way with four times (twice tied with teammates). Jessica Huntington, Brittney Osborn and Joanna Chadd have done so on three occurrences (once by themselves and twice shared with teammates). Four of Eastern's games have seen more than one player lead the team in assists. The season high of six was attained by Allen and Huntington, with both performances coming versus Corban College.
* The steals leaders the most times in 2006-07 have been Katy Baker, as she has set the team pace in three contests so far this year (once on a solo basis and twice tied with others), and Joanna Chadd (all three shared with others). The season high of four has been attained by both Baker (against Washington) and Chadd (versus Corban College).
* The season high for blocked shots in a contest was attained by Nicole Scott in the first game of the season, as she swatted away four Montana Tech shot attempts that day. That total still ties for the second-most recorded by a Big Sky player in 2006-07. Sydney Benson has been a steadying force in this statistical category, as she has led the team in blocks in six games since then.
* Tara Holgate has posted the best shooting night of the season so far (for players with at least five field goals made in that game), as she shot 71.4 percent from the floor (5-of-7) in Eastern's 80-60 win over UC Irvine. Sydney Benson shot 8-of-12 (66.7 percent) versus Gonzaga on Dec. 9.
* With a minimum of two made, Jessica Huntington has had the best three-point shooting performance of 2006-07, as she hit both of her attempts in EWU's 77-67 loss to UTSA. Brittney Osborn hit 3-of-4 versus Northwestern State.
* The best free-throw shooting performance of 2006-07 has come courtesy of Joanna Chadd, who nailed all nine of her free throws in Eastern's 103-102 overtime loss to Gonzaga.
* The Eagles are third in the league in home attendance, attracting an average of 616 fans per contest.
* The past two seasons, the Eagles have compiled consecutive .500-or-better conference campaigns for the first time since the 1986-87 and 1987-88 campaigns. In 2004-05, the Eagles went 8-6 in Big Sky play, 16-12 overall. The following season, EWU's record was 7-7 in conference action, 13-15 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 playing in just 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), Leah 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.
* 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 Ending EWU's Six-Game Losing Streak
* "I'm glad we got that monkey off of our back. Northwestern State is a good athletic team and they play very hard, so it was a good win for us."
Schuller on Brittney Osborn's Performance Versus the Demons
* "Brit did a great job coming off the bench and bringing in a great deal of energy. 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."
Schuller on EWU's Growing Pains and Potential
* "Going into the year, we knew we were going to be young and inexperienced and that we would go through some growing pains the early part of the season.
"I do see sparks of greatness. We have periods of time when we play really well. I would love to see that for 40 minutes. I know we are capable it."
* All of the 2006-07 women's basketball home games will be audio broadcast free of charge, along with road contests against Idaho, Washington State and Portland State. Announcing the contests is Alyssa Chambers. 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.