Cooper Leads Eagles to 75-67 Victory Over UC Irvine

One game after getting a career-high 12 assists, junior guard finishes with career bests of 24 points and 10 rebounds to go along with seven assists

Eastern Washington University junior guard Chene Cooper followed one career high with two more in Eastern's 75-67 victory over visiting UC Irvine in a non-conference women's basketball game Wednesday (Dec. 15) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.

Cooper had a double-double with career highs of 24 points and 10 rebounds, and also had seven assists. Her previous highs were 23 points and eight rebounds, and her performance came just one game after she had a career-high 12 assists in a 73-44 victory over Saint Martin's on Dec. 11.

Senior Julie Piper added 15 points and seven rebounds, while senior Tatjana Sparavalo and junior Brianne Ryan each chipped in 10 points. Eastern finished the game making 49 percent from the field, including a 51 percent performance in the first half. Eastern entered the game making just 37 percent from the field in its first eight games.

"We knew coming into the year what she was capable of," said Eastern head coach Wendy Schuller of the 5-foot Cooper. "She hit some early shots and that got her off to a good start. Our other players around her played well too, and we shot a good percentage -- we can live with that. That is more where we want it to be."

Eastern trailed 62-61 late in the second half, but went on an 8-0 run to pull ahead at 69-62 with 26 ticks remaining on the clock. Cooper had a layup and an assist in the run, while Ryan added a pair of baskets and Piper a layup. The Anteaters missed three shots and had a turnover in that stretch.

The Eagles closed the game by making 6-of-6 free throws in the final 21 seconds, including two each by Ryan, Piper and Sparavalo.

"Coop did a nice job of getting into the lane and making things happen," Schuller said of the late-game flourish. "It was a good way to finish and a great team win with a lot of players in double figures and contributing in other ways."

Eastern is now 3-6, and plays at San Diego on Saturday (Dec. 18) and Oregon State next Tuesday (Dec. 21) before taking a break for Christmas. UC-Irvine fell to 6-4.

Cooper scored 17 of EWU's 36 points in the first half, including a trio of three-pointers that broke her previous career high of two treys. She finished the game making 10-of-19 shots from the field, including 4-of-8 three-pointers.

Four different Eagles scored in a game-opening 10-1 run, with Ryan scoring all four of her first half points in that span. Cooper then hit a pair of back-to-back treys later in the quarter to give EWU a 21-10 lead after an 11-0 run, as the Anteaters went 4:40 without scoring.

A layup by Cooper with five seconds left before halftime gave Eastern its biggest lead of the first half at 36-23. Eastern made 47 percent of its shots in the first half while holding UCI to 29 percent, and out-rebounding the Anteaters 19-12.

"I was really pleased with our effort in the first half," praised Schuller. "We did a good job of attacking their zone and at times, we really picked it apart."

Eastern led by 11 in the second half at 41-30 when UC-Irvine started to cut into the lead. A 14-2 run resulted in a 44-43 UCI lead and then the teams traded baskets for most of the rest of the half before Eastern pulled away at the end.

"They were getting aggressive and tipped some balls that turned into points," said Schuller. "We turned the ball over way too many times during that stretch. At the 12-minute mark, I told our team that we just got punched in the mouth. I was happy with the way we responded after that."

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