Eagles Begin Arduous Road Stretch

Eastern to play five of next six games on the road, beginning with Sacramento State on Jan. 13

Upcoming Games

EWU vs. Sacramento State
Thursday, Jan. 13 - 7:05 p.m. (PST)
The Nest - Sacramento, Calif.

EWU vs. Northern Colorado
Saturday, Jan. 15 - 1:05 p.m. (PST)
Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion - Greeley, Colo.


Webcasts: http://www.bigskytv.org
(All home games and all Big Sky Conference games)

Live Stats:
Sac State game - http://www.hornetsports.com/livestats/wbball/xlive.htm
Northern Colorado game - http://livestats.prestosports.com/uncbears/

The Eastern Washington University women's basketball team opened its 2011 Big Sky slate with a hard-fought victory over Portland State at home on Jan. 8 -- and it's a good thing, because the lineup for the rest of January is as grueling as it gets.

The Eagles will play five of their next six conference games on the road, and their one game in Cheney comes just one day after returning home from Flagstaff, Ariz.

"In my 19 years of coaching, I don't remember ever having a stretch quite like this," said EWU head coach Wendy Schuller. "But it is what it is, and we are doing everything we can to have the team as prepared as possible. We as coaches want to take the brunt of the groundwork, so that the players stay rest and can just go out and play, without having to worry about the other circumstances."

Eastern will begin its journey on Thursday (Jan. 13) when it takes on the Hornets of Sacramento State at The Nest in Sacramento, Calif. The team will then travel to Greeley, Colo., to face Northern Colorado on Saturday (Jan. 15).

The Eagles are winless when playing away from Reese Court this season, but their performance in the Big Sky opener versus Portland State was very encouraging for the road ahead.

Eastern held the defending Big Sky tournament champs to 29 percent shooting from the field, which marked the third-lowest field goal percentage recorded by all EWU opponents up to this point in the season. The Eags had three players score in double figures, including junior Brianne Ryan and senior Tatjana Sparavalo, who both finished with double-doubles.

The Eagles hope to have a similar result against the Hornets, who are 0-2 in the Big Sky after suffering back-to-back losses at Montana State and Montana. The Hornets were out-scored 184-90 in the two games, and shot only 26.7 percent from the field.

"Sac State struggled in Montana, but I think anybody who has been in this league for awhile has been in those same shoes," observed Schuller. "That is not an easy trip. The way we see it, Sac will be playing in their own gym on Thursday -- and they will shoot the ball better there than they did in Missoula, Mont. We know we will have to defend well in transition because they will run and press and look to shoot the ball fast."

The Hornets are led this season by sophomore forward Kylie Kuhns, who averages a double-double of 15.7 points and 11.9 rebounds per game. Kuhns is the only Hornet who has a scoring average of 10 or more points. Senior guard Jasmine Cannady is averaging 8.5 points per game, while senior point guard Tika Diaz-Koshiyama averages 5.7 assists, which currently leads the Big Sky Conference.

The all-time series between the Eagles and Hornets stands at 20-11, in favor of EWU. The Eagles are 8-6 when playing at The Nest in Sacramento, Calif.

The two teams have split the regular-season series in each of the last two years. During the 2009-10 campaign, the Eagles topped Sac State in Sacramento on Dec. 31, but the Hornets returned the favor with a 78-69 upset in Cheney on Feb. 6.

Eastern will play its second road game of the week on Saturday (Jan. 15) in Greeley, Colo. The Bears are currently 1-1 in the Big Sky Conference and 6-9 overall. UNC defeated Montana 65-56 in its Big Sky opener on Jan. 6, before falling to Montana State 84-75 in Bozeman on Jan. 8.

UNC's biggest threats this year are sophomore forward Lauren Oosdyke and freshman guard D'shara Strange. Both players shoot above .400 from the field, and average 10 or more points per game.

The Eagles and Bears have played each other eight times since the 2006-07 season when Northern Colorado became an official member of the Big Sky Conference. Although UNC holds a slight 3-5 advantage in that all-time series, the Eagles have had the upper hand as of late, winning the two most recent matchups. During the 2009-10 season, Eastern earned its first-ever victory in Greeley after the team edged UNC by a narrow score of 51-49. The Eags followed that performance with a 63-52 win at Reese Court to solidify the regular-season sweep.

Eagle Fast Breaks

  • Piper and Sparavalo, as well as sophomore Carrie Ojeda, are also averaging at least five and a half rebounds per game, with Piper leading the way at 6.2. All three players rank among the top 20 in rebounding in the Big Sky Conference.
  • Junior Chene Cooper has dished out a team-leading 73 assists thus far in the 2010-11 campaign. Her average of 5.6 dimes per game ranks second in the Big Sky and 24th in the nation, and is the best mark for all juniors in the BSC. Her assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.0 (73-37) is leading the Big Sky, while also ranking in the top 30 in Division I women's basketball.
  • In the last six games, in which the Eagles have gone 4-2, the team has shot 43 percent from the field (159-of-367). Prior to that, the Eagles were making only 35 percent of their shots (167-473). EWU has recorded a higher field goal percentage than its opponent in each of the last six games, and have earned an 95-66 advantage in assists.
  • Eastern's assist-to-turnover ratio of 0.9 (185-216) is the top mark in the BSC. That statistic also ranks in the top 65 overall in the nation.
  •  As a team, the Eagles are second in the Big Sky in offensive rebounding at 16.3 per game. Eastern is eighth, however, in defensive rebounds with a 22.5 average. The team has four players who rank in the top 15 in offensive boards. Although this statistic is linked to a high number of missed shots (326-840), the team is at least giving itself ample opportunity for second-chance points.

Eagle News & Notes

Sparavalo Sizzles Off the Bench
Eastern's "sixth man," Tatjana Sparavalo, has scored in double figures in eight of Eastern's 13 games, including five of the last seven. She is currently Eastern's third-leading scorer with 11.2 points per game, which she has earned in her 257 minutes off the bench. She has recorded three double-doubles this season, which includes her 15 points and career-high 11 rebounds in Eastern's most recent game against Portland State (Jan.8). Sparavalo is one of only six players in the Big Sky who has earned three or more double-doubles in the 2010-11 season.

Dependable Brianne
Junior Brianne Ryan has scored in double digits in all but three of Eastern's contests this season. She started the year with a seven-game streak of 10 or more points. She is one of only two players in the Big Sky to have a double-digit scoring streak of seven or more games. Ryan has led the Eagles in scoring in its two most recent outings, tallying a career-high 24 points against Willamette on Dec. 30 and 20 points in EWU's Big Sky opener versus Portland State on Jan.8

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 128 total steals thus far in her career, which ranks seventh 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 232 total assists in her career, she is only eight away from the top 10 in that category, which is certainly a feasible goal, as she averages 5.6 per game.

Evans Dominates from Downtown
With 22 treys already this season, senior Kyla Evans has moved up to second in the Eastern record book for career three pointers made. She has 192 total in her tenure, which is just three shy of the current record of 195. She is also one of only three active players 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 eighth in career three pointers (192) and tied for 20th in career three-point field goal percentage (.379).

Ojeda and Ryan Close Out 2010 With a Bang
In Eastern's final game of the 2010 calendar year, sophomore Carrie Ojeda and junior Brianne Ryan both notched career highs. Ojeda recorded two career high marks with nine rebounds and four blocked shots against the Bearcats of Willamette. Ryan scored a career-high 24 points on 11-of-16 shooting.

Coop Hits Career Marks in Back-to-Back Games
Junior Chene Cooper had a career night in Eastern's 75-67 win over UC Irvine on Dec. 15 and in EWU's 73-44 rout of Saint Martin's on Dec. 11. The five-foot point guard scored 24 points on 10-of-19 shooting against the Aneaters, and pulled down a team-leading 10 rebounds in the contest. Her previous career highs in those categories were 23 points and eight rebounds. This performance came one game after she set another career high in assists. Against Saint Martin's, she had an astounding 12 dimes, which is the best single-game assist performance for any player in the Big Sky this season. Her previous career high in that category was seven.

Balanced Attack
The 2010-11 Eastern Washington women's basketball team boasts one of the most versatile squads in the league. In Eastern's 13 games thus far in the season, five different players have led the team in scoring. The same depth is evident on the defensive end, as six different Eagles have led in rebounding this year. EWU has four players with double-digit scoring averages, and four players who average five or more rebounds per game. Each class (Fr., So., Jr., Sr.) are represented in these numbers as well.

Piper's Presence
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, as well as all 10 of the current season. She has started 92 of those 99 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 two rebounds in every game since Nov. 28. 2008 (2 vs. UNLV). This season, Piper has had eight double-digit scoring outings, and two of 20 or more points.

Notable Newcomers
Freshman Aubrey Ashenfelter has seen minutes in every game of the 2010-11 season. As Eastern's backup point guard, she averages 13.0 minutes per game. A product of Southridge High School in Portland, Ore., Ashenfelter has scored 38 points for Eastern and dished out 22 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 1.9 rebounds per game and 2.7 points. She played a season-high 22 minutes against national-powerhouse Gonzaga on Dec. 3.

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.

Family Ties
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. 

Piper Selected as Candidate for Lowe's Senior CLASS Award
EWU senior forward Julie Piper was selected as one of 30 candidates for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as a NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition. The 2011 women's candidate class includes five players who were CoSIDA Academic All-Americans last year, 22 student-athletes with grade point averages of 3.0 or better, four players who participated in the 2010 Women's Final Four and 15 players on the preseason watch list for the John R. Wooden Award. The candidate class will be narrowed to 10 finalists midway through the regular season, and those names will be placed on the official ballot. Ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches and fans, who will select one finalist who best exemplifies excellence in the four Cs of community, classroom, character and competition.

Eagles Sign Four for 2011-12 Season
Four high school seniors from the state of Washington have signed national letters of intent to play basketball at Eastern Washington University. The members of the 2011 recruiting class include 5-foot-1 point guard Kylie Huerta from Kentwood High School, 5-11 guard Kayleigh Ryan from Lynden Christian High School, 6-0 forward Melissa Williams from Camas High School in Vancouver and 5-10 shooting guard Hayley Hodgins from Chiawana High School in Pasco. Huerta was ranked among the top 110 point guards in the nation according to ESPN Hoopgurlz.com, and earned South Puget Sound League North Division Co-MVP honors in 2010 after leading the league in points per game (18.9) and steals (57). Ryan, sister of current Eagle, Brianne Ryan, is a dual-sport athlete, earning letters in basketball and volleyball at Lynden Christian. As a junior on the basketball team, she averaged nine points, eight rebounds and 4.7 assists per game for the Lyncs. Williams was selected as the 2010 Greater St. Helen's League Player of the Year and the Columbian's All-Region Player of the Year. She led her team to the Class 3A District Championship in 2010, averaging 16 points per game throughout the year. Hodgins was a member of the Columbia Basin Big Nine Cascaded Division first-team in 2010 and was twice named the Tri-City Herald Athlete of the Week. Hodgins was the league's leading scorer during her junior year, averaging 18.4 points per game. She shot 46 percent from three-point range, which was also the best in the league.

Accomplishments Under Schuller

  • The 2009-10 squad won the school's first-ever Big Sky Conference regular-season title and hosted the league tournament for the first time in school history.
  • The 2009-10 Eagles advanced to the Women's National Invitation Touament, which marked the first national postseason appearance for EWU since 1987.
  • Eastern earned an overall record of 19-12 and conference record of 12-4 in 2009-10, which were the best recorded by an EWU team since the 1984-35 season.
  • Julie Piper was named 2010 Big Sky Most Valuable Player, becoming the first player in program history to earn such an honor.
  • Schuller was selected as the 2010 Big Sky Coach of the Year. She has collected 113 wins at EWU, which is the second-most victories in school history.
  • The Eagles have advanced to the Big Sky Conference semifinals in six of Schuller's nine years at the helm of the program (2002-06, 2010).
  • For the past nine-consecutive seasons, Eastern has earned a spot on the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Academic Top 25 Honor Roll -- something achieved by only one other team in Division I history (Indiana State). Eastern has been among the top five academic teams in the nation in seven of those nine years, including the 2003-04 campaign, in which the team placed first nationally with a 3.63 cumulative grade point average.
  • Two Eagles have attained ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America second-team honors -- Joanna Chadd in 2006-07 and Kathleen Nygaard in 2003-04.
  • Kyla Evans received ESPN The Magazine All-District VIII honors in 2009.
  • The past nine seasons, 74 players have earned Big Sky All-Academic honors, the most in the league.
View: Mobile | Desktop