Eagles host UC-Irvine Wednesday at Reese Court, before traveling south to face San Diego Saturday
EWU vs. UC-Irvine
Wednesday, Dec. 15 - 7:30 p.m.
Reese Court - Cheney, Wash.
EWU vs. San Diego
Saturday, Dec. 18 - 2 p.m.
Jenny Craig Pavilion - San Diego, Calif.
TV: Televised regionally by SWX (SWX Digital 6.2 in Spokane, 25.3 in the Tri-Cities & 23.3 in the Yakima area; Comcast 115; Time Warner 306; Charter 287).
(All home games and all Big Sky Conference games)
Live Stats: http://web.ewu.edu/groups/athletics/wbasketball/wblivestats/xlive.htm
San Diego Game
Live Stats: http://web.ewu.edu/groups/athletics/wbasketball/wblivestats/xlive.htm
After putting an end to its six-game losing skid with a big win over Saint Martin's, the Eastern Washington University women's basketball team looks to carry that momentum through its final three games before Big Sky play begins. The Eagles will face two teams from California in the upcoming week, beginning with UC-Irvine on Wednesday (Dec. 15) at Reese Court. Tipoff is tentatively scheduled for 7:30 p.m., as it is part of doubleheader with the EWU men's basketball team, who plays Seattle at 5:35 p.m. Following Wednesday's game, the Eagle women will head to sunny San Diego for a showdown with the Toreros on Saturday (Dec. 18) at 2 p.m. pacific time.
The Eagles have struggled a bit in the early goings of the 2010-11 season, but after shooting a season-high 49 percent from the field and grabbing 43 rebounds in its lopsided 73-44 victory against Saint Martin's, the team seems to be headed in the right direction. Senior Julie Piper tied her career-high with 23 points against the Saints, while junior Chene Cooper set her own career high with 12 assists.
"The biggest thing for us in these next few games is to continue to improve," said EWU head coach Wendy Schuller. "We played a solid game against Saint Martin's, and shot the ball better than we have been, but I'd like to see us do that more consistently. We are also not quite where we want to be defensively. Teams are taking really high-percentage shots against us. We have to find a way to be more aggressive in terms of forcing turnovers, getting steals and just making things happen, because when we get into Big Sky play, that will be absolutely key."
Eastern's first test of the week will be against the Anteaters of UC-Irvine, who are currently riding a five-game winning streak, which includes victories over Big Sky foes Northern Colorado and Portland State. The Anteaters won both of those contests by a 14-point margin.
The Eagles and Anteaters have met seven times in history, with UCI holding a slight 4-3 advantage in the all-time series. The two teams have played each other five times in Schuller's tenure, and Eastern has won three of those five meetings.
Last year, the Anteaters topped EWU 87-73 at the Bren Center in Irvine, but it was a rather unusual win, as more than half of UCI's points came from the free throw line. Eastern was called for 35 fouls, which allowed the home team to notch 45 points from the charity stripe alone.
"UC-Irvine is a very active and athletic team," said Schuller. "They get the rim and attack the basket. Last season, Irvine shot 55 free throws against us, which was absolutely crazy. If we are not on our toes and anticipating rather than reacting on Wednesday, it will be a similar type of night."
UC-Irvine relies heavily on junior Mikah Maly-Karros for production on both ends of the floor. The 6-1 forward is averaging a double-double this season with 19.1 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. Senior guard Jade Williams-Smith is also a major factor in UC-Irvine's offense with 14.1 points per game and 4.1 assists.
After concluding its three-game home stretch with the Anteaters, Eastern will hit the road to face the Toreros of San Diego in the first matchup between the two programs in more than 10 years. The Eagles are 0-3 against San Diego in the all-time series, but the teams have not met since 1998 when USD topped EWU 56-35 in Cheney.
San Diego is 7-3 thus far in the 2010-11 campaign, which includes a 78-63 victory over Northern Arizona in its most recent outing on Dec.11. The Toreros have four players who possess double-digits scoring averages, including senior forward Emily Hatch, who also dominates the boards with 10.1 rebounds per game. USD's 5--8 junior guard Dominique Conners is the leading scorer with 16.1 points per game, and also has a team-leading 33 assists. She led USD in the win over NAU with 23 points and five dimes.
Saturday's game against San Diego will be Eastern's third matchup of the season with an opponent from the West Coast Conference. The Eagles played Portland on Nov. 14, and seven-time WCC champion Gonzaga on Dec. 3, falling in both contests by scores of 77-58 and 101-74, respectively.
Dec. 14, 1980 - L, 61-62 (A)
Dec. 22, 1981 - L , 64-87 (A)
Nov. 21, 2003 - W, 81-67 (A)
Dec. 13, 2004 - W, 65-50 (H)
Nov. 13, 2006 - W, 80-60 (A)
Nov. 30, 2007 - L, 57-68 (H)
Dec. 19, 2009 - L, 73-87 (A)
San Diego (0-3)
Nov. 30, 1990 - L, 67-95 (N)
Dec. 1, 1996 - L, 48-66 (A)
Nov. 22, 1998 - L, 56-35 (H)
Eagle Fast Breaks
- Eastern has three players who are averaging 10 or more points per game after the first month of the season. Julie Piper leads the way with 12.1, while Tatjana Sparavalo and Brianne Ryan follow with 11.5 and 10.4 ppg, respectively.
- Piper and Sparavalo, as well as sophomore Carrie Ojeda, are also averaging at least six rebounds per game. All three players rank among the top 15 in rebounding in the Big Sky Conference.
- Junior Chene Cooper has dished out a team-leading 45 assists thus far in the 2010-11 campaign. Her average of 5.6 dimes per game ranks second in the Big Sky and 21st in the nation. Her assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.9 (45-24) is the top mark in the BSC, while also ranking in the top 100 in the nation. She is also fourth in the league in steals with a 2.3 steals per game average.
- As a team, the Eagles lead the Big Sky in offensive rebounding at 18.1 per game. Eastern is last, however, in defensive rebounds with a 21.5 average. The team has four players who rank in the top 15 in offensive boards. Although this statistic is linked to a less than favorable field goal percentage of .369 (197-534), the team is at least giving itself ample opportunity for second-chance points.
- The Eagles have a similar dichotomy in terms of scoring offense and scoring defense. Eastern's offensive output of 66.1 points per game ranks second in the Big Sky, but the team is eighth in the leauge in scoring defense, allowing opponents an average of 72.8 points per game.
- The Eagles have impressed with their ability to take care of the basketball in the first eight games of the season, ranking third in the Big Sky in turnover margin at +1.0, and second in assist-to-turnover ratio at 0.8 (109-133). As a team, Eastern averages 16.6 turnovers per game, which ranks 72nd in the nation, while its assist-to-turnover ratio is also in the top 100 of all teams in Division I women's basketball.
Eagle News & Notes
Career Night for Coop
Junior point guard Chene Cooper set a career-high 12 assists in Eastern's 73-44 victory over Saint Martin's on Dec. 11. Her previous career high was seven, which she had achieved on two occasions, one of which was in the game prior against Gonzaga on Dec. 3. Her 12 dimes against SMU is the best single-game assist performance for any player in the Big Sky thus far in the season.
Piper Finds Her Stroke Against Saints
After scoring only 14 points combined in the previous two games, senior Julie Piper found her stroke in Eastern's most recent outing against Saint Martin's. She converted 11 of her 15 attempts from the field to finish with 23 points, which tied her career high scoring mark. Piper currently ranks sixth in the Big Sky in scoring (12.1 ppg) and seventh in field goal percentage (.477).
Seven in Row for Ryan
Prior to Eastern's game against Saint Martin's, in which she scored just five points, junior Brianne Ryan had scored in double figures in seven-consecutive outings. Ryan is one of only two players in the Big Sky to have a double-digit scoring streak of seven or more games. Her season high of 13 tallies came against Idaho, when she shot 4-of-8 from the field, including 2-of-3 from long range.
Coop Climbing the Charts
Just a junior, Chene Cooper has already cracked the top 10 list in one category of the EWU career record book, and she is quickly closing in on another. Cooper has 122 total steals thus far in her career, which ranks ninth in the EWU record book. Fifty-seven of those steals came last season, which is the seventh-best single-season performance in Eastern history. With 204 total assists in her career, she is only 36 away from the top 10 in that category, which is certainly a feasible goal for this year, considering she tallied 89 assists last season as the back-up point guard.
Evans Dominates from Downtown
With 14 treys thus far in the season, senior Kyla Evans is now third in the Eastern record book for career three pointers made. She now has 184 in her tenure, and is just 11 away from nabbing the record outright. She is also the only active player in the Big Sky who has 150+ career three-pointers and the only current Eagle who appears in the Big Sky record book, as she is tied for eighth in career three pointers (184) and tied for 20th in career three-point field goal percentage (.379).
Sparavalo's Senior Season Off to Blazing Start
Senior Tatjana Sparavalo has scored in double figures in five of Eastern's first eight games. She recorded two double-doubles in the first two weeks of year, with 16 points and 10 rebounds against Cal State Fullerton (Nov. 12) and 21 points and 10 rebounds in EWU's narrow loss to Boise State (Nov. 20). Her 21 tallies against the Broncos led all players in the game, and was only three points away from her career high of 24. In Eastern's most recent outing against Saint Martin's, Sparavalo was a perfect 4-of-4 from three-point range, and ended the night with 16 total points.
Freshman Aubrey Ashenfelter has seen minutes in every game of the 2010-11 season. As Eastern's backup point guard, she averages 11.0 minutes per game. A product of Southridge High School in Portland, Ore., Ashenfelter has scored 22 points for Eastern and dished out nine assists. Freshman Laura Hughes, who came to Eastern from Richland, Wash., has also been an important player off the bench this season. Hughes provides depth in the post, averaging 2.3 rebounds per game and 3.0 points. She played a season-high 22 minutes against national-powerhouse Gonzaga on Dec. 3.
Julie Piper has not missed a single game since the first time she stepped on the court as a freshman in 2007. She played in all 29 games during her rookie season, all 29 as a sophomore in 2008-09 and all 31 last year. She has started 82 of those 89 games. Besides her consistent court presence, Piper has scored at least two points in every game since Feb. 14, 2009 (0 vs. ISU), and has had at least three rebounds in every game since Nov. 28. 2008 (2 vs. UNLV).
Piper Named to Omni Hotels Classic All-Tournament Team
Julie Piper was selected as one of five standout players for the 24th Annual Omni Hotels Classic All-Tournament Team. Piper averaged 15.0 points per game in the two games played in Boulder, Colo., on Nov. 26 and 27. She shot an impressive 52 percent from the field and was a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line. With those eight made free throws over the weekend, she moved into the top 10 in the Eastern record book for career free throws made. She now has 207 in her tenure. Piper registered her first double-double of the season against the Ramblers with 20 points and 13 rebounds. She was 7-of-15 from the field, and knocked down all six of her attempts from the charity stripe. She also scored in double digits against the Purple Aces, tallying 10 points of 4-of-6 shooting. Although her time on the floor was limited due to foul trouble, she added six rebounds and two steals in just 15 minutes.
Current Eagle Brianne Ryan is the daughter of one of the all-time greats in the Eastern Washington Women's Basketball program, Neil Ryan (formerly Neil Ann Massie). Neil Ryan played basketball for EWU from 1979-82, and is the third-leading rebounder in school history with 1,008 career rebounds. Her career rebounding average of 8.47 ranks fourth in the EWU record book, while her 346 rebounds in the 1979 season is the fourth-best single season performance in program history. She is also one of the all-time leading scorers, as her 1,190 career points ranks seventh overall in the EWU record book. She ranks sixth in career field goals made (509) and tenth in field goals attempted (1,001). EWU's relationship with the Ryan family does not stop there. Head coach Wendy Schuller recently signed Brianne's younger sister and Neil's youngest daughter, Kayleigh, to a national letter of intent to play basketball at Eastern starting in the 2011-12 school year.