Eastern’s Women’s NCAA Tournament Team Honored Sunday

The 1986-87 Eagles won the Mountain West Conference title and will be honored in ceremonies Sunday afternoon when the reigning Big Sky Champions host Portland

On a day when one champion will be in action, another will be recognized as well.

Eastern Washington University's 1986-87 women's basketball team, which won the Mountain West Conference Tournament title and advanced to the school's first NCAA Division I Tournament in any sport, will be honored Sunday (Nov. 14) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.

A banner commemorating their achievement will be unfurled that day as the current Eastern team, which won last year's Big Sky Conference regular season title, will be in action at 2:05 p.m. against Portland.

The 1986-87 team finished the year 18-12 and was 8-4 to finish third in the MWC regular season. But the Eagles knocked off second-seeded Weber State 71-65 in the conference tournament semifinals, then knocked off host Montana 77-74 in the title game at Dahlberg Arena in Missoula, Mont.

Eastern went on to lose in the NCAA Tournament to Oregon 75-56 on March 11, 1987, in Eugene, Ore., and snap EWU's 10-game winning streak.

The following season, the Mountain West became the Big Sky Conference. It took more than 20 years before the Eagles won another league title last season, but EWU came up short in its quest for another NCAA Tournament berth by losing in the semifinals of the Big Sky Conference Tournament.

The 1986-87 team was coached by Bill Smithpeters, who was inducted into the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame this past October after winning 290 games as Eastern's head coach. The squad was led by 6-foot-2 post Brenda Souther, a 1998 Eastern Hall of Fame inductee, as she averaged 21.9 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.8 blocked shots per game to earn honorable mention All-America honors.

Souther was a four-time All-MWC selection, and in 1992 was selected to the Big Sky All-Decade team. Eastern teams were 74-38 (.661) in her four seasons as the Eagles placed in the top three and advanced to the Mountain West Tournament all four years. She set Mountain West records for career rebounds (1,045) and blocked shots (364), as well as for single-season blocked shots (100 in 1984) and numerous tournament records. A standout from Arlington High School near Everett, Wash., Souther established more than 10 school records including career points (1,733) and field goal percentage (.582) in her 100-game career.

Junior point guard Roj Johal joined Souther as a team captain in 1986-87, and averaged 10.9 points and 6.3 assists per game. She had a school-record 17 assists in a 74-71 road win at Idaho on March 1, 1987, a record that still stands.

Other starters included Lisa Danner (12.4 points, 7.3 rebounds), Susan Smith (12.0 points, 43-of-90 three-pointers) and Sonya Gaubinger (5.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists). Other members of the squad who played that season were Angie Coleman, Karen DeVoir, Monica Dickson, Kelly Fitzgerald, Laurie Hattemer, Kris Karnes, Collette Smith and Bridget Vietz. Others on the team's roster for that season included Deanie Burrous and Jodi Erickson, and the team's assistant coaches included Soni Adams, Mike Divilbiss and Kelly Green.

 

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