Eagles Tune-Up For Conference Play With 83-35 Win

Eastern forces 34 turnovers and has 24 offensive rebounds as it defeats NCAA Division III Willamette

Junior Brianne Ryan scored 17 of her career-high 24 points in the first half and the Eastern Washington University women's basketball team went on to an easy 83-35 non-conference victory over NCAA Division III Willamette Thursday (Dec. 30) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.

The game was Eastern's final non-conference matchup before the team embarks on the 2010-11 Big Sky Conference season at home against Portland State on Jan. 8 at 2:05 p.m. The Eagles are the defending Big Sky Conference regular season champions and PSU won last year's post-season tournament on EWU's home court.

Eastern is now 4-8 overall, and all four of those wins have come on Reese Court. Willamette, a member of the Northwest Conference, is now 1-8.

"I thought our effort was good and we played hard," said Eastern head coach Wendy Schuller after all 11 Eagles that played scored in the game. "It was good to give some of the kids who haven't played as many minutes an opportunity to do some things."

Ryan made 11-of-16 shots from the field as she eclipsed her previous career high of 18 points set a year ago against Northern Colorado. The 2008 graduate of Lynden Christian High School in Lynden, Wash., also had six rebounds, a pair of assists and three steals.

"I thought she really played hard, got out in some lanes and got some layins and easy baskets," praised Schuller. "We talked with the team about attacking the basket and attacking the rim. She did a really good job with that."

Senior Julie Piper was the only other Eagle in double figures with 12 points, and she chipped in eight rebounds, three steals and a pair of blocked shots. Freshmen Aubrey Ashenfelter and Chenise Pakootas each contributed eight points, with Ashenfelter finishing with a game-high six assists and Pakootas adding seven boards. Sophomore Carrie Ojeda added six points, and career highs of nine rebounds and four blocked shots.

Eastern forced 34 Willamette turnovers and scored 48 points off those miscues. Eastern also had a 27-0 advantage in fastbreak points.

 "We were just trying to pressure the ball and create some offense with our defense," Schuller explained. "I thought when we played a zone against them we were active and were able to force some turnovers."

Eastern finished the game making 42 percent of its shots from the field, while Willamette finished at 27 percent. The Eagles had 24 offensive rebounds, which led to 19 second chance points.

"It's good and it's bad -- it means you're missing some shots," Schuller said of the abundance of offensive rebounds. "We have to do a better job of finishing inside. I think there was one segment where we had five offensive rebounds in a row, and we had 22 missed layups. We got fouled on some of them, but we still have to be stronger and finish those."

Eastern held the Bearcats without a point for the first 6:40 of the game as EWU took an early 5-0 lead. A 12-0 Eastern run helped open a 15-point lead as Willamette went four minutes without scoring. Ryan scored four points in that run, then had three more as Eastern closed the half with a 7-0 spurt as the Bearcats went the final 2:50 without scoring.

Eastern led at halftime 39-14, holding Willamette to 16 percent shooting from the field (4-of-25) and forcing 15 Bearcat turnovers. Eastern made 15-of-33 shots for 46 percent and had a 27-15 rebounding advantage at intermission.

The Eagles continued to build on the lead in the second half, out-scoring Willamette 24-4 in the first 8:20 of the second half to take a 63-18 advantage. Eastern led by as many as 52 with 3:25 left in the game at 79-27.


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