Eagles Struggle to Find Hoop in 70-56 Setback at Montana State

Despite 14 steals and seven blocks, Eastern falls to league-leaders after recording second-lowest field goal percentage of season

The Eastern Washington University women's basketball team had plenty of opportunities on Thursday in Bozeman, Mont., but Eagles could not get their shots to fall, resulting in a 70-56 loss to the Bobcats of Montana State.

"We missed a lot shots right around the basket – shots we should not be missing," said EWU head coach Wendy Schuller. "MSU did a good job contesting us, but those are ones we have to find a way to finish."

Eastern took 12 more shots than MSU in the contest, but converted only 19 of its 69 attempts for a 27.5 shooting percentage - the second-lowest of the season for EWU. The Bobcats finished the game shooting 40 percent from the field, including 8-of-14 from long range.

Eastern has already clinched a spot in the 2011 Big Sky Conference tournament, but with the loss to the Bobcats, the Eags fell to 7-6 in the conference season and 11-15 overall. EWU is now tied with Idaho State for fifth place in the league standings. Montana State improved to 10-3 in Big Sky action and reclaimed a share of the top spot with Northern Colorado, both of whom have also earned bids to the tourney.

The Eagles will take on Montana on Saturday (Feb. 26) in Missoula. The Grizzlies recently dropped to fourth place in the standings after suffering a 70-65 loss to Portland State on Thursday.

Despite its blunders from the field, Eastern kept it close for most of the first half. Neither team led by more than five points through the first 15 minutes of play. Eastern had built a slim three-point advantage at the 5:45 mark, but a three pointer by MSU's senior guard Lyndsi Seidensticker sparked a 14-1 run by the Bobcats to close out the half. Eastern went into the locker room trailing MSU, 40-30. Eastern is 1-12 in the 2010-11 campaign when trailing at halftime.

The second period was not pretty for either team, with MSU converting only 8-of-23 shots from the field, and Eastern 8-of-37. The Eagles did have twice as many steals as MSU in the game (14-7), and held a 7-3 edge in blocked shots, but it was not enough to make up for 29 missed field goals.

Senior Julie Piper registered a career-high 15 rebounds, including nine on the offensive glass, but the reigning Big Sky MVP only made 2-of-11 shots from the field and 2-of-2 from the free throw line to finish with six tallies.

Junior Brianne Ryan led the Eagles offensively with 14 points, while junior Chene Cooper chipped in 11.

Montana State had four players in double figures, including Seidensticker, who finished with a game-high 19 points on 55 percent shooting. She hit five of MSU's eight treys in the game.

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