Eastern goes on 24-3 run in final minutes to extend
Big Sky Conference lead to two games
The Eastern Washington University women's basketball t eam survived a scare and came back to earn its tenth Big Sky Conference victory of the season with a 71-64 win over the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks Saturday (Feb. 20) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.
The Lumberjacks took a nine-point lead in the first eight minutes of the first half and went into halftime with a 34-27 lead. The Eagles found themselves down 61-47 with 5:24 remaining in the second half after a 15-0 run by Northern Arizona.
Eastern responded and went on a 24-3 run in the final minutes to secure the victory. During that run, Eastern converted on 9-of-10 free throw opportunities.
"It was a big comeback, a big comeback," said head coach Wendy Schuller. "I thought Northern Arizona came in well-prepared and they came in and played harder than we did. We are very lucky that we got a win tonight. We learned that we can't let teams come in and play harder than us -- we won't win basketball games that way. I was really proud of us for not laying down and giving up -- we were resilient. We fought back and made big plays."
The Eagles are now 17-9 overall and 10-3 in the Big Sky, and hold a two-game lead over Montana and Portland State for first place. Both schools lost tonight, allowing Eastern to extend their lead from one game to two.
"It is a great win, especially with Montana and Portland State losing today," said Schuller.
Tatjana Sparavalo led the Eagles in scoring with 21 points. Coming off the bench, Sparavalo was 3-for-6 from the three-point line and a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line. Chene Cooper scored 18 points off the bench and also had six assists and three steals. Julie Piper was one rebound away from a double-double, finishing the contest with 17 points and nine rebounds.
"Sparavalo got hot and we are smart enough to that when someone gets hot you keep feeding them the ball," said Schuller, whose team had a 39-14 advantage in bench points. "She produced and did a really great job. Cooper played really well and gave us a great spark off the bench when we needed it."
Both teams shot well from the field, with Eastern shooting 45.6 percent and Northern Arizona 42.3 percent. Each team finished shooting 5-for-15 from behind the arc. The Eagles were out-rebounded 36-28 by the Lumberjacks, who committed 20 turnovers.
The Eagles are back in action Friday Feb. 26 at Weber State and Saturday Feb. 27 at Idaho State. Both games will tip-off at 6:05 p.m. Pacific time.