Brianne Ryan leads Eagles to victory with 13 points and seven boards
The Eastern Washington University women's basketball team opened its 2010-11 season with a 76-63 exhibition victory against Simon Fraser on Sunday (Nov. 7) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash. The game does not count in the season record or statistics for either team.
"Our number one goal was to bring a lot of effort and energy in this game," said EWU head coach Wendy Schuller. "I thought we did a nice job of that. We played hard. As coaches, we want to teach, but we don't want to coach effort, nor should we have to. This afternoon, we didn't have to do that at all."
Reigning Big Sky Co-Defensive Player of the Year Brianne Ryan paced the Eagles with 13 points on 4-of-9 shooting from the field and 4-of-6 from the free throw line. Ryan, a native of Lynden, Wash., also had a team-leading seven boards, as well as four steals and two assists.
"Brianne was really solid today," applauded Schuller. "She did a nice job defensively and took good shots for us. The way she went to the glass was also encouraging. It was a great all-around effort."
Seniors Kyla Evans and Julie Piper also eclipsed double digits, as Evans tallied 11 points and Piper chipped in 10. Nine of Evans' 11 points came from beyond the arc, as she converted all three of her attempts from long range. Heading into the official 2010-11 season, Evans is the only active player in the Big Sky who has 150+ career three-pointers. She is also fourth in the Eastern record book for career three-point field goals made with 170 in her tenure.
"Kyla has a specific role on this team and she did a nice job satisfying it today," said Schuller. "We need her to shoot the three like that for us every night because it really extends the defense."
The Eagles forced 27 turnovers in the game, which they turned into 27 points. Junior Chene Cooper had a major role in that statistic, as she had four steals and six points for the Eags. She also contributed five assists.
"We thought Chene did a great job of getting us going offensively," said Schuller. "When you look at this team, we feel we can be very dangerous in transition. We can really get up and down against people, and in a lot of ways, Chene is what makes that happen."
As a team, the Eagles shot 40.8 percent from the field, compared to 32.7 percent for the Clan. The Eagles had a 32-20 advantage in points in the paint, as well as a 17-5 edge in second-chance points. The Eagles never trailed in the game, while the closest SFU came was when it pulled within seven with 10:34 remaining in the second half. Ryan scored five of the next 10 points to give the Eagles a double-digit lead (55-45), at which point they never looked back.
Each of EWU's five freshmen saw action in the contest, combining for 16 of Eastern's 34 total points from the bench.
"This was their first time thrown into the fire, and we thought all our freshmen did a good job," commended Schuller. "Each one had their own role, and we thought they executed pretty well. Chenise [Pakootas] had a good court presence for us, and Aubrey [Ashenfelter] ran the offense really well."
Pakootas finished the game with three points and two assists, while Ashenfelter also contributed two assists.
Simon Fraser sophomore Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe led all players in the contest with 20 points and 13 rebounds. In addition to her double-double, Raincock-Ekunwe had three assists and two blocks for the Clan. Simon Fraser is a provisional affiliate of the Great Northwest Conference this season, as it is in the process of becoming an official NCAA Division II school. Prior to the 2010-11 season, SFU competed in the NAIA as part of the Canada West league of the Canadian Interuniversity Sport. The Clan captured the CIS women's basketball title in back-to-back years (2009 and 2010), and has earned five national titles in the past decade.
The Eagles will play their first official game of the season next Friday (Nov. 12) when they take on Cal St. Fullerton at 7:30 p.m. on Reese Court. The game is part of a doubleheader with men's basketball, who plays at 5:35 against San Jose State.