Eagles Tabbed Second in Big Sky Preseason Polls

Reigning regular-season champs picked second behind Montana in both media and coaches poll

The Eastern Washington University women's basketball team was picked second in the 2010-11 Big Sky Preseason Media and Coaches Polls, announced Thursday (Oct. 21) by the conference office. Eastern, who finished the 2009-10 season with a 19-12 overall record and the top mark in the league at 12-4, garnered 53 total points in the coaches poll, including two first-place votes, while the media gave EWU 159 total points with six first-place tallies.

Head coach Wendy Schuller, the Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year, returns three starters and 10 letterwinners from her 2010 squad that earned the school's first-ever Big Sky regular-season title. Among those returners is senior forward Julie Piper, the 2010 Big Sky Most Valuable Player, as well as BSC Co-Defensive Player of the Year, Brianne Ryan. The Eagles also return second-team selection Kyla Evans.

During the 2009-10 campaign, Piper averaged 11.8 points per game and 7.5 rebounds per game. During conference play, Piper upped her scoring average to 12.6, which included eight-consecutive double-digit performances. Ryan chipped in 9.1 points per game, 4.5 boards and was second on the team in steals at 1.42. Evans led the team from the perimeter, as she knocked down 58 treys during the year. Her .403 (58-144) three-point field goal percentage ranked third overall in the Big Sky Conference and 38th among all players at the Division I level.

The Eagles will also welcome back juniors Chene Cooper and Breauna Russell, who played in all 31 games for EWU last season. In addition to its returning members, Eastern has five new faces on its roster. Among the list of talented freshmen is Richland, Wash., native Laura Hughes, who averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds and earned 3A All-State honors for the Hanford High School Falcons.

For the 10th time in 11 years, Montana was selected as the preseason favorite in both polls, as it earned five first-place votes from the coaches for a total 61 points. The media gave the Lady Griz 171 points and 12 first-place nods.

Portland State, the defending Big Sky tournament champion, was picked just behind Eastern with 52 points awarded by the coaches and 152 from the media. Montana State, who upset EWU in the semifinals of the BSC tournament last season, was the No. 4 team in the polls, while Idaho State and Sacramento State tied for fifth in the coaches poll and came in fifth and sixth in the media, respectively.

The Eagles will kick off their 2010-11 campaign on Sunday, Nov. 7 with an exhibition game versus Simon Fraser. Tipoff from Reese Court is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. The official season will begin the following weekend when Eastern hosts Cal St. Fullerton and Portland on Friday, Nov. 12 and Sunday, Nov. 14, respectively.

2010-11 Big Sky Women's Basketball Preseason Poll Results

Coaches Poll

School Points (First-Place Votes)
1. Montana 61 (5)
2. Eastern Washington 53 (2)
3. Portland State 52 (1)
4. Montana State 48 (1)
T5. Idaho State 26
T5. Sacramento State 26
7. Northern Arizona 25
8. Northern Colorado 18
9. Weber State


Media Poll

School Points (First-Place Votes)
1. Montana 171 (12)
2. Eastern Washington 159 (6)
3. Portland State 150
4. Montana State 132
5. Sacramento State 102 (3)
6. Idaho State 84
7. Northern Arizona 66
8. Northern Colorado 48
9. Weber State 33
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