Eagles Aim For Another Program First In The WNIT
Victory over Oregon in WNIT on Thursday would be the first national postseason tournament win for the Eagles in program history in NCAA Division I
2010 Women’s National Invitation Tournament
Date - Opponent - Time/Pacific
March 18 – at University of Oregon – 7 p.m. Pacific
Eastern will take a 19-11 record into its game against the 16-15 Ducks of the Pac-10 Conference. Eastern earned an automatic berth into the WNIT by virtue of its first-ever Big Sky Conference regular season title. Eastern finished 12-4 in league play to earn the top seed and host status for the league tournament, but had its NCAA Tournament hopes dashed with a 65-57 loss to sixth-seeded Montana State in the tournament semifinals.
With a win over the Ducks, who were fourth-nationally in points scored per game, the Eagles would earn their first national postseason tournament victory in program history at the NCAA Division I level.
“We feel honored and privileged just to have another opportunity to play,” said Eastern head coach Wendy Schuller. For our program to play in a prestigious postseason tournament like the WNIT is great thing for us. It’s another great step forward for the direction we want our program to go.”
The Ducks opened their season with an 86-48 victory over the Eagles on Nov. 16 in Eugene. In that game, Oregon led 11-2 less than four minutes into the game and 47-25 at halftime.
“We know that Oregon is a great team,” said Schuller. “They proved throughout the season that they were a team to be reckoned with in the Pac 10 Conference -- they had a great year. But we could have told people that early in the year.”
Oregon’s first-year head coach is Paul Westhead, who came to Oregon with a coaching resume that spans nearly four decades, including stints in the NBA, WNBA and the men's collegiate ranks. Known for executing an exciting brand of run-and-gun basketball, Westhead recently coached the Phoenix Mercury to a WNBA championship in 2007. His latest hardware made him the only head coach to win a championship in both the NBA (1980 with the Los Angeles Lakers) and WNBA.
The Ducks, who were just 9-21 overall and 5-10 in the Pacific 10 Conference in 2008-09, finished 7-11 in the league this season. The Ducks averaged 81.4 points per game and averaged 23 three-point attempts per game, making an average of just over eight per game. A year ago, Oregon was the lowest-scoring team in the Pac-10, averaging less than 57 points a game.
Schuller believes league games against the similar style of Sacramento State will help the Eagles on Thursday. Eastern beat the Hornets 90-85 in Sacramento before falling at home 78-69.
“Oregon has a pressing, high-tempo offense -- they really like to shoot the three and have players that can score,” added Schuller. “They want to get up and down the court, much like we faced against Sacramento State, but with Pac 10-caliber players. Having faced them before and having faced that style in our league will help prepare us for the challenge ahead. It’s tough playing in Eugene, but the positive is that there will be some familiarity and it won’t be a totally foreign experience to us.”
The 1987 Eastern team finished second behind Montana in the league standings (the Big Sky was then known as the Mountain West Athletic Conference), but knocked off the Grizzlies 77-74 in Missoula in the tournament championship game. That earned EWU its first and only women’s berth to the NCAA Tournament, where it lost to Oregon 75-56.
Previous Meeting with Oregon: Oregon scored five seconds into the game on a three-pointer to take the lead for good as they rolled to an 86-48 victory over Eastern Washington Nov. 16 in Eugene, Ore., in the women's collegiate basketball debut for Oregon's Paul Westhead.
The Ducks led 11-2 less than four minutes into the game, then led 47-25 at halftime. Oregon continued to build its lead in the second half before winning by 38 points. Eastern junior Julie Piper led the Eagles with 10 points and eight rebounds, and junior Kyla Evans added eight points and five boards.
The Ducks out-shot (41 percent to 29 percent) and out-rebounded (51-37) the Eagles, and made eight three-pointers compared to just three for the Eagles. Oregon also had a commanding 26-7 advantage in free throws.
WNIT: The WNIT kicks off postseason action Wednesday with first-round games. All games are held on the campuses of participating schools. All 64 teams will play in the first round, featuring 32 games. That will be followed by 16 games in Round 2, eight third-round games, four quarterfinal games, two semifinal games, and the championship. The WNIT championship game will be played Saturday, April 3, and will be hosted by one of the two final participating schools.
The WNIT awards an automatic qualifying berth to each of the nation’s 31 conferences. The spot goes to the team that finishes the highest in the regular-season conference standings that does not advance to the NCAA Tournament. If there is a tie, the WNIT abides by the conference tiebreaker. A team earns the automatic qualifying berth regardless of its overall record. However, to be considered for a WNIT at-large berth, a team must have an overall record of .500 or better.
This year’s field features five teams each from the Big Ten, Big East, Atlantic 10, and Colonial Conferences. The Mountain West has four teams, and the Pac 10, Missouri Valley, Mid-American, Conference USA, and ACC have three each. Other conferences with more than one team in the field include: Big 12 (2), SEC (2), West Coast (2), and WAC (2).
BSC Tournament: Despite entering the Big Sky Conference Tournament as the No. 1 seed, the Eagles were upset in the semifinals by No. 6 seed Montana State 65-57. Eastern had swept the Bobcats 2-0 during the regular-season.
The Eagles were without Big Sky MVP Julie Piper for 18 minutes as she picked up two fouls in the first two minutes of the first half.
“They were just dumb fouls,” said Piper. That’s something I’ve had to work on since last season – to not get into foul trouble. Because we were excited and hosted the tournament, I was rearing and ready to go and was just a little too aggressive. In the second half I just didn’t find rhythm.”
Eastern was also without second-team all-conference performer Kyla Evans, who had to miss the game due to a back injury.
“We found out about 30-40 minutes before the game that we wouldn’t have her,” said head coach Wendy Schuller. “She was good to go in our shoot-around earlier in the day and moved well. All of the sudden it just happened. It was unfortunate – it hurt us in the aspects of her being a perimeter threat and a second team all-conference player. It hurt not having her scoring.”
Brianne Ryan led the Eagles in scoring with 10 points in the game. Ryan, who played all 40 minutes, also had five rebounds. Nicole Scott pulled down 12 rebounds and added eight points, along with a game-high four blocks.
Starting Line-up: The Eagles have used the same starting line-up in 28 of the 30 contests during the 2009-10 campaign. The line-up of Jessica Huntington, Brianne Ryan, Kyla Evans, Julie Piper and Nicole Scott was also used 14 times last season for a total of 42 of 59 games. With that line-up, the Eagles have gone 24-18 (18-10 this season and 6-8 last).
Schuller Big Sky Coach of the Year: Eastern Washington University women's head basketball coach Wendy Schuller has been selected as the Big Sky Conference Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year, the league announced on Tuesday (March 16). The 2010 recipient was chosen in a vote by the league coaches earlier this week.
The Eagles are 19-11 overall and won the Big Sky regular season with a 12-4 record. The Eagles hosted the 2010 Big Sky Women’s Basketball Championship last week -- the first time that the tournament has been played in Cheney, Wash.
Eastern Washington returned to Big Sky tournament play after missing the postseason three-straight seasons. Not only did the Eagles get back to the tournament , but they secured the outright regular season title for the first time in program history.
Picked to finish seventh in the league by both the coaches and media, EWU's run to the conference regular season title was sparked by winning its first seven conference games. Included was a home sweep of Montana and Montana State on back-to-back nights.
Under Schuller, Eastern Washington placed two players on the 2009-10 All-Conference Team in juniors Julie Piper and Kyla Evans. Piper was named to the first team, while Evans was named to the second team. Sophomore Brianne Ryan received the honor of being named the league’s Co-Defensive Player of the Year with Montana State’s Sarah Strand.
Piper earned regular-season MVP honors and was a unanimous first team selection. She became the program’s first-ever league MVP, and had earned honorable mention All-Big Sky honors as a sophomore. The Eagles haven’t had a first team All-BSC selection since Julie Page was honored in 2006.
Schuller has now collected 113 wins in nine seasons as the head coach at Eastern Washington and has posted a 56-78 record in the conference play. In her first five seasons, the Eagles qualified for the Big Sky Tournament and have now made Big Sky Championship appearances in six of her nine years at the program.
The 2009-10 season pushed the program to new heights, and with the regular season title the Eagles secured a spot in the Women's National Invitation Tournament. The appearance in the WNIT is the first postseason appearance for the Eagles since the 1987 season. The 1987 team finished second behind Montana in the league standings (the Big Sky was then known as the Mountain West Athletic Conference), but knocked off the Grizzlies 77-74 in Missoula in the tournament championship game. That earned Eastern Washington its first and only women’s berth to the NCAA Tournament, where it lost to Oregon 75-56.
A native of Redlands, Calif., Schuller and her husband, Mark, have an 9-year-old son, Rory (born Oct. 16, 2000), and a 6-year-old daughter, Megan (born July 15, 2003). The family resides in Cheney.
Trio Honored by Big Sky, Including MVP Julie Piper: A trio of Eastern Washington University underclassmen -- including history-making MVP Julie Piper -- have been selected by the league's head coaches to the Big Sky Conference women's All-Conference team released Monday (March 8).
Piper, Eastern's first-ever recipient of that award, was also a first team All-BSC selection. Sophomore Brianne Ryan was selected as the co-Defensive Player of the Year and junior Kyla Evans earned second team accolades.
Piper is a 2007 graduate of Roseburg (Ore.) High School, and earned honorable mention All-Big Sky honors as a sophomore. The Eagles haven't had a first team All-BSC selection since Julie Page was honored in 2006.
Ryan is from Lynden, Wash., and graduated from Lynden Christian HS in 2008. Evans is a 2007 graduate of nearby Brewster (Wash.) High School.
The trio led the Eagles to a 19-11 record overall and 12-4 finish in the league as EWU won its first-ever Big Sky regular season title. Piper was the lone Eastern player to average in double figures in scoring, averaging 12.0 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.
"The MVP honor is well deserved," said Eastern head coach Wendy Schuller. "Julie is unselfish and cares about the team first. She has worked really hard as a basketball player and I am very excited for her. Her teammates will be happy for her because she cares so much about the team. She represents our program to the highest degree in so many ways that it's nice to see her be recognized with an award like this."
Piper and Evans played as freshmen in the 2007-08 season when the Eagles won just four of 29 games. Evans is averaging 9.4 points per game, and has made a school-record 39.0 percent of her three-point attempts in her career (170-of-436).
"Kyla is an outstanding player," said Schuller. "She is another player who has worked extremely hard on her game and has really helped us out this season -- shooting lights out from the three-point arc for us. She and Julie were with us in the lean years and I am definitely excited for Kyla."
Ryan averages 8.9 points and 4.4 rebounds per game and has three double-doubles this season, but her real contribution has come on the defensive end for the Eagles. She has 43 steals this season and regularly guards the opponent's best player.
“I am glad the league got it right," said Schuller. "No matter whom we played all year we assigned her to their best player and she shut them down. She did a wonderful job and is just a great team defender. She stepped up to the plate and did it. She is only a sophomore and her best basketball is still in front of her."
Seniors: Eagle seniors Jessica Huntington and Nicole Scott have been through a lot in their four years in a combined 233 games in the red and white. The two seniors went a combined 24-63 in their first three years at Eastern – including a 4-25 sophomore campaign.
“Those seniors have been through a lot," said head coach Wendy Schuller. "I do not know if you can find two players that have had careers that have been on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of wins and losses, and success and failures. They are great examples of perseverance and sticking with something and believing in a system. We never changed we just did what we did and we just kept trying to get better at it. They bought in and believed and I am so happy for them. They mean everything. They are the bookends -- your point guard and your center. They bring us energy, life, and heart. I am just really excited for them.”
Huntington has started every game for the Eagles this season and is averaging 5.9 points and 3.6 assists per game. The point guard is fifth all-time in games played with 116 and is third all-time with 409 career assists. Huntington is seventh all-time with 80 career three-pointers and fourth all-time with a 35.4 career percentage behind the arc.
"Huntington is as solid as a point guard gets," said Schuller. "She takes great care of the ball and has a great understanding of our system of play. Her greatest attribute is her work ethic - she has put a lot of time into making herself into such a solid player and as a coach it's reassuring to know that we will get everything she has every time she steps on the court."
Scott has also started every game for the Eagles this season. She is averaging 6.8 points and five rebounds per game. Scott has blocked a team-high 38 shots this season, giving her 136 for her career which ranks fourth all-time in program history. The forward is fourth all-time in games played with 117.
“Scott has meant a lot to our program in many ways,” said Schuller. “She has been a consistent player throughout her career and always given us a solid presence on the block. She is a great teammate and I have always admired her for how big her heart is when it comes to helping others.”
Wins and Family Both Grow: Head coach Wendy Schuller’s win total in her ninth season at the helm of the Eastern Washington women’s basketball program isn’t the only thing getting larger in 2010. In June, she and her husband Mark will welcome their third child, joining their 9-year-old son, Rory (born Oct. 16, 2000), and 6-year-old daughter, Megan (born July 15, 2003) to their family. Rory was born while Schuller was associate head coach at Northwestern State in Natchitoches, La. She was pregnant with Megan during her second season at the helm when the Eagles finished 17-12 overall -- her most successful season until this year. Wendy and Mark are expecting a boy.
Three-Pointers: The Eagles have set the school record for three-pointers made in a season with a total of 172 this season. The previous record was 166 set back in 2004. In the process the Eagles have made 500 attempts, breaking the previous record of 496 set in 2007.
“It’s not something we have focused on so I think it is mainly a result of shot selection,” said Schuller. “That means we have had the right players shooting it at the right times. Our solid inside presence has also forced teams to collapse and opened up shots for us from three. Having a great three point shooter like Kyla Evans doesn’t hurt either!”
Big Sky Champs: A 70-56 victory over Weber State on Feb. 26 clinched at least a share of the first regular season Big Sky Championship in school history. Although Eastern lost at Idaho State 71-63 the next night, they wrapped up the outright title the following weekend. A Sacramento State loss at ISU on March 5 actually assured EWU of sole possession of the title, but Eastern made it a moot point the next day with a 78-68 win over PSU.
“The Idaho State loss was tough because we lost a chance to win the league outright, but I also dislike the fact that it took some of the shine off of us clinching our first title,” said Schuller. “Our team believed in themselves when no one else did and I am so proud of the heart and effort put forward by them to accomplish this goal. We get great support from former players and their families and it was special hearing from a number of them after the Weber State game.”
The Rock: Junior forward Julie Piper has led the steady Eagles in scoring and rebounding all season, but the Roseburg, Ore., native stepped up her game in Big Sky play. Piper is averaging 12.6 points and 8.3 rebounds a game in league play.
"Julie plays as hard as any player I have ever coached," said Schuller. "She has worked hard to have a great season and I think this weekend was just a reflection of her entire season. She has a great humility about her and will do anything for this team."
Fear the Reese: The Eagles are 12-3 when playing at Reese Court this season. Eastern's home opener against Idaho on Nov. 19 turned into a thrilling, 54-51 overtime victory for Eastern. Eastern also turned in another overtime thriller against Big Sky rival Montana on Jan. 8, defeating the Grizzlies 67-64.
The only three losses at Reese Court this season for the Eagles came at the hands of Cal Poly on Dec. 16, Sacramento State on Feb. 6 and Montana State on March 12.
"Defending our home court is vital and that is why it was so important for us to host the tournament," said Schuller. "Our players seem to be energized when we play home and the great crowds we have had lately have really fired us up to another level."
Breakin' Records: With their 77-65 victory over Weber State on Jan. 23, the Eagles surpassed the school record for best conference start in history.
"We are quite happy with our 7-0 start," said Schuller. "We weren't aware of the school record until that night and anything we can do to positively represent Eastern Washington University is something our team is proud to accomplish."
The Eagles tied the previous record of 6-0 with a victory over Idaho State on Friday (Jan. 22). The previous record of 6-0 was set during the 1984-85 season when the Eagles competed in the Mountain West Conference.
"This group of young women has worked extremely hard and continued to believe in themselves, each other and this program even when things didn't always go our way," said Schuller. "They are a true example of what perseverance and faith can do in your life."
Team Ball: Part of the Eagles success this season can be attributed to the team basketball Eastern has been playing. The Eagles have just one player, Julie Piper, who is averaging more than 10 points a game -- despite the fact that the Eagles feature one of the top scoring offenses in the conference.
By comparison, every other team in the top half of the conference has at least two players averaging 10 points or more a game.
"Our team talks a lot about winning as a team and one thing we really enjoy is sharing the credit," said Schuller. "Individual accolades aren't what this team is about. Everyone has a job and I think a huge part of our start can be attributed to players understanding their job and getting it done for the sake of the team."
Seven different Eagles have led the team in scoring in single games this season, and six different Eagles have led the team in rebounds. Also, seven different players are averaging at least six points per game.
Evans Shines: Junior Kyla Evans from Brewster, Wash., had quite the week from Jan. 18 though Jan. 24. The three-point ace started off her week with a solid performance against Idaho State on Jan. 22 with 11 points and four steals. Evans then had the top scoring performance of her career, scoring a career-high 24 points against Weber State one night later.
Her performances didn't go unnoticed by the Big Sky Conference, which named her the Big Sky Player of the Week. The award was the first for any EWU player this season and was the first in the three-year career for Evans.
For the second-straight year, Evans has been named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VIII squad as selected by members of the College Sports Information Directors Association (CoSIDA). She was selected to the second team after earning first team honors a year ago.
A 2007 graduate of Brewster (Wash.) High School, Evans has a 3.97 grade point average as a communication studies major with minors in government and leadership. She has previously been named to the Big Sky Conference All-Academic team as a freshman and sophomore, and was honored as an Eastern Washington Scholar-Athlete of the Month for December 2008 and January 2010.
She also helped the Eagles to a fourth-place spot on the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Coaches Association Academic Honor Roll Top 25 as a freshman, and a No. 8 ranking as a sophomore. Eastern has been honored by the WBCA for eight-straight seasons.
Back-to-Back Games: In a league-wide cost-cutting measure, schools in the Big Sky played more back-to-back games. The Eagles finished 7-1 in back-to-back games in the regular-season.
"We have great depth and that has helped us with back-to-back games, it’ll be important when we get into tournament play," said Schuller.
Losing Streak Broken: Eastern's 67-64 overtime victory over Montana on Jan. 8 was its first win in the series since the 2005-06 season, when the Eagles edged the Lady Griz 58-56 at Reese Court. The win on Jan. 8 broke a seven-game losing streak to the Lady Griz, who are the reigning Big Sky Conference champions.
"We knew coming in that Montana played a tough zone defense," said Schuller. "That gave us trouble especially early in the game and we were not attacking it the way we needed to be attacking. We made some adjustments and I thought our team did a nice job of making some key stops down the stretch."
Those key stops came in the way of turnovers by Montana down the stretch when Eastern held a one-point lead. Sarah Ena, who led Montana in scoring with 19 points, turned the ball over with 15 seconds remaining and Lauren Beck turned the ball over with five seconds remaining to put the game on ice for the Eagles.
Eastern Basketball -- http://goeags.com/sports/w-baskbl/index
Big Sky Conference Basketball -- http://bigskyconf.com/sport.asp?path=wbball&tab=womens
NCAA Basketball -- http://www.ncaa.com/sports/w-baskbl/ncaa-w-baskbl-body.html
ESPN College Scoreboard -- http://scores.espn.go.com/ncw/scoreboard
Coach Schuller’s Website -- http://www.coachschuller.com/
Coach Schuller’s Twitter -- http://twitter.com/EWUCoachSchu
More Information and Links are Available at: HTTP://WWW.GOEAGS.COM
Recent EWU Women's Basketball Headlines . . .
March 15, 2010 - Eastern to Play Rematch at Oregon in WNIT
March 12, 2010 - No. 6 Seed Bobcats Stun No. 1 Seed Eagles In Semifinals 65-57
March 8, 2010 - A First for EWU, Julie Piper is MVP of the Big Sky Conference
March 8, 2010 - Piper Named Big Sky Conference Player of the Week
March 7, 2010 - Pairings Set for Big Sky Tournament at Reese Court
March 6, 2010 - Eagles Send Seniors Out as Winners In Regular-Season Finale
March 5, 2010 - After Getting Help from ISU, Eagles Will Host Big Sky Tournament
February 27, 2010 - Bengals Edge Eagles 71-63
February 26, 2010 - Eagles Clinch at Least a Share of Big Sky Title
February 20, 2010 - Comeback Victory Gives Eagles Tenth Big Sky Win
February 19, 2010 - Eagles Secure Postseason Spot With Victory Over Bears
February 13, 2010 - Montana Drops Eagles 75-60
February 11, 2010 - Eagles Topple Bobcats 71-64
February 6, 2010 - Hornets Sting Eagles 78-69
February 5, 2010 - Kersee Lind and Kyla Evans are Scholar-Athletes of the Month
February 4, 2010 - Evans Repeats on Academic All-District Squad
February 3, 2010 - Eagles Fly Over Redhawks 67-50
January 30, 2010 - Eagles Fall At Portland State 67-60
January 25, 2010 - Evans Named Big Sky Player of the Week
January 23, 2010 - Eagles Earn Historic Victory Over Weber State 77-65
January 22, 2010 - Eagles Tame Bengals 70-60 To Remain Unbeaten In Big Sky
January 18, 2010 - Untouched Eagles Return Home for Two Games
January 16, 2010 - Eagles Sneak Past Bears 51-49
January 14, 2010 - Eagles Cut Down Lumberjacks 66-52
January 9, 2010 - Eagles Victorious Over Bobcats 69-63
January 8, 2010 - Eagles Best Lady Griz in Overtime Thriller 67-64
EWU Basketball Highlights . . .
- The Eagles have advanced to the Big Sky Conference semifinals three of the past eight years.
- For the last eight years, Eastern has ranked among the top 10 teams nationally in the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Academic Top 25 Honor Roll. In 2003-04, Eastern had the top grade point average in the country, 3.63. In 2008-09 EWU ranked ninth (3.42).
- Two Eagles have attained ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America second team honors - Joanna Chadd in 2006-07 and Kathleen Nygaard in 2003-04.
- The past eight seasons, 67 players have earned Big Sky All-Academic honors, the most in the league.
Eagle 2009-10 Performances . . .
Julie Piper has started all 30 games for the Eagles this season and has led the team in scoring and rebounding all season long. Piper has been a double-double machine on the year as she has accounted for five, most recently scoring 20 points and pulling down 13 rebounds in a 78-68 victory over Portland State on March 6. Her performance against the Vikings earned her the first Big Sky Player of the Week award of her career. Her 7.6 rebounds per game ranks third in the Big Sky while her 12.0 points per game ranks 14th in the league. Her 20-point output against the Vikings was her highest of the season and her season high rebounding performance of 13 came four different times, most recently against the Vikings. Piper has shot a team-high 46.9 percent from the field on the season, which ranks fourth in the Big Sky.
Kyla Evans has played in and started in 28 games this season for the Eagles. She is averaging 9.4 points per game, which ranks second on the team and 26th in the conference. Evans has connected on 58-of-144 three-point attempts and her 40.3 percent ranks fourth in the Big Sky and first on the team. Her 39.0 career three-point percentage ranks first all-time in program history and the junior ranks fourth in career three-pointers made (170) and fourth in career three-point attempts (436). She ranks first on the team in free throw percentage, connecting on 30-of-33 from the charity stripe for 90.9 percent. Evans had quite the week from Jan. 18-24 en-route to Big Sky Player of the Week honors. The three-point ace started off her week with a solid performance against Idaho State on Jan. 22 with 11 points and four steals. Evans then had the top scoring performance of her career, scoring a career-high 24 points against Weber State one night later. She combined for 35 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in the home sweep over the Bengals and Wildcats. For the second-straight year, Evans was also named to the named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VIII squad as selected by members of the College Sports Information Directors Association (CoSIDA). She was selected to the second team after earning first team honors a year ago.
Nicole Scott has started all 30 games this season and has averaged 23.0 minutes per game. The senior is averaging 6.8 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. Scott has blocked a team-high 38 shots this season, giving her 136 for her career which ranks fourth all-time in program history. Scott had her strongest performance of the season on Feb. 6 against Sacramento State as she had 16 points and nine rebounds in the contest, along with a block and a steal. Scott has played in the fourth-most games in the history of the program with 117 and went over the 1,000-point mark in her career on March 6 versus Portland State.
Jessica Huntington has been the starting point guard for all 30 of the Eagles games this season and is averaging 5.9 points and 3.6 assists per game. The point guard is fifth all-time in games played with 116 and is third all-time with 409 career assists. Huntington is seventh all-time with 80 career three-pointers and fourth all-time with a 35.4 career percentage behind the arc. Huntington sports the second-best assist-to-turnover ratio in the conference with a plus 1.5 per game. Her 107 assists on the year is the seventh-highest total in the conference.
Brianne Ryan has been the do-everything combo-guard for the Eagles in 30 starts this season. The sophomore is averaging 8.9 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. Ryan has put together three double-doubles this season, most recently scoring 12 points and pulling down 10 boards on Jan. 22 against Idaho State. She scored a career and season-high 18 points against Northern Colorado on Jan. 16. Ryan is second on the team with a total of 43 steals on the year.
Tatjana Sparavalo has come off the bench in 27 games this season and is averaging 7.4 points per game in 15.7 minutes of action. She has the second-highest free throw percentage on the team, connecting on 34-of-41 free-throws for 82.9 percent. Sparavalo has scored in double-figures on 10 different occasions this season, most recently pouring in 21 points against Northern Arizona on Feb. 20. Her three-point percentage of 39.3 (24-of-61) is the 10th highest single-season output in school history.
Chene Cooper has appeared in all 30 games this season for the Eagles and is averaging 19.2 minutes per game off the bench. Her 8.7 points per game are the fourth-most on the team and her 2.9 assists per game are the second most. Cooper has 57 steals on the season which is first on the team and ranks seventh all-time for a single season steal total. She has scored in double figures 10 times this season, including the last four games of the regular season when she averaged 19.5 points. Her 23-point performance against Weber State on Feb. 26 was a career high.
Breauna Russell started twice and appeared in all 30 games for the Eagles this season. In an average of 11.8 minutes of action, Russell is averaging 1.8 points and 1.5 rebounds a game. Russell set single game career highs this season in points scored (eight), rebounds (five), and assists (five). The sophomore has tallied 23 assists and 28 steals over the course of the season.
Jordan Schoening has appeared in 29 games for the Eagles this season and is averaging 12.6 minutes per outing. The freshman is averaging 2.9 points per game and established a career-high point total of nine against Montana Tech on Dec. 12. Schoening also had a career-high five rebounds on Jan. 14 against Northern Arizona and three assists versus Corban College on Nov. 21.
Carrie Ojeda has played in 28 games for the Eagles this season and is averaging 7.4 minutes of action. She is averaging 2.1 points and 2.4 rebounds a game. The freshman scored six points in three different games this season and pulled down a career-high seven rebounds on Jan. 16 against Northern Colorado.
Courtney Nolen appeared in 19 games this season and is averaging 2.3 points and 1.8 rebounds in 9.7 minutes per game. Nolen scored a career-high seven points in just eight minutes against UC Irvine on Dec. 19. The freshman forward pulled down four rebounds in three different games, most recently against Gonzaga on Dec. 1.
Jessica Thielen has appeared in 16 games for the Eagles this season, averaging 5.9 minutes per game. In her first season at Eastern, Thielen had career and season high in points with four against Seattle (2/3/10) and Montana State (1/9/10). Thielen has also contributed three rebounds on three different occasions, most recently against the Bobcats. She also has five assists and eight steals on the year.
About Head Coach Wendy Schuller . . .
Under head coach Wendy Schuller, the Eastern Washington University women's basketball team has reached heights unseen in Cheney in decades, both on and off the basketball court.
Over the past eight campaigns, the team has been ranked amongst the top 10 squads on the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Academic Top 25 Honor Roll, something only achieved by one other team (Indiana State). The Eagle squad of 2003-04 placed first nationally with a 3.63 grade point average.
Schuller led Eastern to back-to-back .500-or-better regular-season Big Sky Conference records for the first time in school history (2004-05 and 2005-06) as well as tournament appearances in five of her eight seasons at EWU. To put that achievement into perspective, Eastern Washington played in just five BSC Tournaments in its first 13 years of Big Sky play.
Since the Big Sky began sponsoring women's sports in 1988-89, the Eagles have compiled two overall winning seasons and five trips to the Big Sky Conference Tournament semifinals. Both of those winning marks came during Schuller's time on the Eastern campus, as did three of the five conference semifinal appearances.
Schuller and the Eagles have made Reese Court a challenging place for visitors to play, as Eastern has compiled a commanding 38-29 mark (.567 winning percentage) in its last 67 games played there. Eastern went 8-6 at home last year en route to recording 2.5 times as many overall wins as was attained the previous year, 10.
In 2005-06, Eastern Washington qualified for the Big Sky Conference Championship for the seventh consecutive season and was the fourth seed at the event for the second straight season, its highest seeding since the 1994-95 campaign.
She led Eastern to a winning campaign in 2004-05 (16-12) to start just the team's second set of consecutive winning seasons for the Eagles since the 1986-87 and 1987-88 campaigns.
The 2003-04 season saw Eastern Washington qualify for the BSC Tournament semifinal round for the third straight season.
In 2002-03, Eastern had its first winning campaign in 16 years at 17-12 and came the closest to making the Big Sky championship game in school history, falling in the semifinal round to top seed and host Weber State by just nine points, 64-55.
In Schuller's first season of 2001-02, Eastern Washington claimed a tournament quarterfinal contest as the fifth seed for the first of two straight seasons. The Eagles topped No. 4 Northern Arizona 70-57 to mark its furthest advancement in the tournament in seven years.
Prior to arriving at Eastern, Schuller began her coaching career at Northwestern State University. In 1993, she started coaching as a graduate assistant for the Lady Demons while earning a master's degree in sports administration.
Following graduation, she became a full-time assistant, and her duties included acting as defensive coordinator and primary recruiter and working with opponent preparation and general operations.
In 1997, she was promoted to associate head coach.
Her last six years at the Natchitoches, La., school saw her also serve as the senior woman administrator.
In total, Schuller coached for nine seasons at NSU under head coach James Smith, the most successful coach in Southland Conference history.
In that time span, the team won 185 games and two conference titles and earned a pair of wins over top-25 teams as one of the top-30 winningest NCAA Division I programs of the 1990s.
Schuller earned her bachelor's degree in business in 1992 from Fresno Pacific University after playing for the Sunbirds as a shooting guard.
Her senior season, she helped lead FPU to a 25-6 record, a No. 14 national ranking in the NAIA ranks and advancement to the NAIA Tournament's Round of 16. She was also selected as an NAIA Academic All-American that season.
A native of Redlands, Calif., Schuller and her husband, Mark, have an 9-year-old son, Rory (born Oct. 16, 2000), and a 6-year-old daughter, Megan (born July 15, 2003). The family resides in Cheney.