February 7, 2011

Mussolini and Ryan Earn First Scholar Athlete Honors of 2011

Eagle student-athletes recognized after turning in two record-breaking performances in January

Sophomore Fernando Mussolini of the Eastern Washington University men’s tennis team and Brianne Ryan from the women’s basketball squad were selected by the EWU athletic department as the Scholar-Athlete Award recipients for the month of January.

Mussolini, a native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, holds a 3.73 cumulative grade point average in business administration; an impressive accomplishment for an international student who is in only his second year in the states. Ryan, a product of Lynden Christian High School in Lynden, Wash., has a 3.20 GPA in interdisciplinary studies.

In addition to their continued academic success, both Mussolini and Ryan had what was arguably the single-best outing of their athletic careers on the exact same day in late January.

 More on Mussolini

On Jan. 22, Mussolini defeated Mario Cirstea of Idaho, who was ranked 57th in the nation and 17th in the mountain region at the time. He beat Cirstea in straight sets, 6-2, 7-5. Mussolini became the first player under head coach Darren Haworth to defeat a nationally-ranked player (top 100 on ITA list), and is believed to be the first Eagle to do so since Eastern became a member of NCAA Division I athletics.

Mussolini has played at No. 1 singles in five of Eastern’s seven matches this season. He garnered a 4-1 record during the month of January, while going 2-3 in doubles action. He was also the only Eagle to record a win against Oregon on Jan. 15, as he defeated Robin Cambier, 6-2, 6-1.

On the season, Mussolini has earned a 5-2 record in singles play, which includes his most recent victory over Ryan Lane of Northern Colorado.

More on Ryan

While Mussolini was going to work against Cirstea at the Jim Thorpe Fieldhouse on Jan. 22, Ryan was putting on her own show inside Reese Court. Ryan poured in a career-high 33 points against Sacramento State on a blistering .778 percentage from the field. She was 9-of-9 to open the contest, and missed only one shot total in the first half. Ryan also contributed six rebounds and three assists in that contest.

Her 33 tallies was the single-best offensive performance, in terms of points and field goals made, of any player in the Big Sky this season. That performance was also only five points shy of the EWU school record for points in a single game, held by Vanessa Jones, who scored 38 against Lewis-Clark State College on Dec. 5, 1990.

Ryan led the Eagles in scoring in five of Eastern’s seven games during the month of January. She averaged 20.3 points per game on 60 percent shooting and had the second-most assists on the team with 14. She also averaged 4.6 boards per game during the month.

Ryan has started and played in all 21 games this season, averaging 32.1 minutes per game. She has scored in double-digits in 18 of those 21 games, including the last 10 in a row; a streak earned by only one other player in the Big Sky Conference. In league-only statistics, she leads the Big Sky with 18.4 points per game, and her field goal percentage of .542 is fourth overall in the conference. 

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