Eastern Back on the Road to Face Portland State and Idaho State

Eagles wrap up regular-season series with Vikings on Thursday and play Idaho State for the first time on Saturday

Upcoming Games

EWU at Portland State
Thursday, Jan. 27 - 7 p.m. (PST)
Stott Center - Portland, Oreg.

EWU at Idaho State
Saturday, Jan. 29 - 1:05 p.m. (PST)
Reed Gymnasium - Pocatello, Idaho


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

Live Stats:
vs. PSU - http://www.sidearmstats.com/portlandstate/wbball/index.htm
vs. ISU - http://www.isu.edu/athletic/xlive.htm

The Eastern Washington University women's basketball team is coming off a successful week that saw back-to-back conference victories, and a few remarkable individual performances.

The Eagles upended Northern Arizona in Flagstaff 60-53, and then smoked Sacramento State at home 98-70. Junior Brianne Ryan set a career-high 33 points against the Hornets, while Chene Cooper dished out 14 assists, also a career high for the junior.

The Eagles have won five of their last six games, and out-scored their opponents 467-367 in those contests. Since the start of conference play, Eastern has shot 44 percent from the field and out-rebounded its Big Sky opponents 216-181.

Eastern will look to take this recent success on the road, as it travels to Portland State on Thursday (Jan. 27) and Idaho State on Saturday (Jan. 29). This trip will mark the third week in a row Eastern is playing at least one of its two games away from Reese Court. The Eagles are 2-5 in games on the road this season, but both of those wins have come in the last two weeks.

In its first contest this week, Eastern will wrap up the regular-season series and dam cup rivalry with the Portland State Vikings, who captured the BSC tournament title in 2010. EWU upended PSU 70-62 in the Big Sky opener for both teams on Jan. 8. The Eagles held Portland State to just 29 percent shooting from the field in that game. The Hornets did hit seven three pointers though.

With victories in the two most recent meetings, Eastern has improved its all-time record against the Vikings to 28-22. The Eagles do, however, trail in the games played at the Stott Center. Portland State has a 13-9 edge on Eastern in games played in Portland, including the last five in a row. This season, the Vikings are 6-1 at the Stott Center.

PSU, who has a 2-3 record in the Big Sky, is led by sophomore guard Courtney VanBrocklin and junior guard Eryn Jones. VanBrocklin averages a team-leading 13.6 points and 6.1 rebound per game, while Jones is right on her heels in scoring with 13.4 points per game. VanBrocklin owns the best free throw percentage in the Big Sky at .855 (59-69), while Jones is the most efficient three-point shooter in the league with her .461 (41-89) three-point field goal percentage.

"It will be interesting to get back on the road this week, starting with Portland State," said EWU head coach Wendy Schuller. "Portland State is a team that is very difficult to stop in transition. They shoot the three well, and really run the floor hard. They will look to shoot the ball really quickly, so I think our biggest challenge is going to be stopping them in that transition. It's what we've focused on all week, so hopefully we can do a good job executing our defensive game plan."

Following its second meeting with the Vikings, Eastern will take on Idaho State for the first time in 2010-11. The Bengals are also 2-3 in Big Sky action, but own the best overall record of all teams in the conference at 11-7. ISU boasts the league's leading scorer in Chelsea Pickering. The junior guard averages 17.3 points per game on a .428 field goal percentage. Like the Eagles, ISU has three other players who also average double-digits, including 6-foot-0 Ashleigh Vella who averages 12.1 points per on a team-leading .507 field goal percentage, and 5.6 rebounds.

"We know Idaho State is capable of putting up a lot of points," said Schuller. "They have several players, guards especially, who can really light it up. It is definitely going to be a challenge, coming off what will probably be a very tiring up and down game at Portland, to playing a good Idaho State team in Pocatello. We have not won at their place in a very long time."

The all-time series between Eastern and Idaho State stands at 33-29, in favor of EWU. However, the Bengals have won 11 of the last 12 meetings, including seven in a row at Reed Gymnasium.

Last year, Eastern snapped a 10-game losing skid against the Bengals with a 70-60 victory in Cheney, but Idaho State then returned the favor with a 71-63 win in Pocatello. Under Schuller, the Eagles are 2-7 when playing at Reed Gymnasium.

THE DAM CUP –This season, Eastern and Portland State started a five-sport rivalry cup called The Dam Cup, which celebrates the friendly rivalry between the states of Oregon and Washington within the Big Sky Conference. The so-named rivalry refers to the four dams linking Oregon and Washington that one passes on the 339-mile drive from the Portland State campus to the Eastern Washington campus. Located along the Columbia River, they are Bonneville Dam, The Dalles Dam, The John Day Dam and the McNary Dam.

The five sports competing for the cup are football, women's soccer, women's volleyball, women's basketball and men's basketball. The Dam Cup is based on a point system, with points only rewarded for regular season contests. Each women's basketball match between the Eagles and Vikings are worth two points apiece for a total of four points possible toward the school's total for the 2010-11 season. EWU won the first two points with its 70-62 victory in Cheney on Jan. 8.

Eagle Fast Breaks

  • Eastern is currently on a two-game winning streak, and has won five of the last six, four of which were Big Sky Conference games.
  • Since the start of conference play, Eastern has shot 44 percent from the field (145-331), and out-scored its opponents 384-332. During its 12 non-conference games, EWU shot 39 percent (304-784), and was getting out-scored 820-808.
  • Eastern is the best offensive rebounding team in the league with 16.4 offensive boards per game. The Eags are third in the Big Sky in scoring offense (70.1 ppg), field goal percentage (.403), assists (14.9 apg), rebounding margin (+3.1), turnover margin (+1.6) and assist-to-turnover ratio (0.9).
  • The Eagles are 8-1 this season in games they are leading at the half. The team is 0-8 when they are trailing at intermission.
  • Eastern is also 8-1 in games it holds its opponent to less than 40 percent shooting from the field. When the opposing team shoots 40 percent or better, EWU is 0-8.
  • Eastern has four players with double-digit scoring averages. Brianne Ryan leads the way at 14.1, followed by Tatjana Sparavalo (12.2), Julie Piper (11.6) and Chene Cooper (10.8).
  • Chene Cooper is averaging 6.2 assists per game, which ranks 11th in Division I women's basketball. That average is the best in the Big Sky, as is her assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.9 (106-55). Cooper is the league to have had 20+ points, 10+ rebounds and 10+ assists at least once this season.
  • Brianne Ryan has scored in double digits in 14 of 17 games this season, including the last six in a row. She has scored at least 20 points in four of the last six outings. She turned in the single-best offensive performance of all players in Big Sky with 33 points against Sacramento State on Jan. 22. In conference only statistics, Ryan leads the league in scoring at 21.2 ppg, which is almost two more than any other player in the league. In all games of the 2010-11 season, Ryan ranks fifth in the Big Sky at 14.3. Ryan is shooting 51 percent from the field, which ranks 54th in the nation and third overall in the Big Sky Conference.
  • Tatjana Sparavalo has had five-consecutive double-digit scoring games. She Is one of only four players in the Big Sky to have at least four double-doubles this season, and she ranks in the top 15 in the Big Sky in scoring (12.2), rebounding (5.6) and three-point field goal percentage (.429).
  • Julie Piper is the top senior in the Big Sky leads all seniors in Big Sky in FG pct. (.505) and FT pct. (.854), and is among the top five rebounders in the Big Sky with 6.9 boards per game.

Eagle News & Notes

Ryan Has Career Night Against Hornets
Junior Brianne Ryan poured in a career-high 33 points against Sacramento State on Jan. 22. She converted 14-of-18 shot from the field, which is also a career high in field goals made for the junior. Her 33 tallies was only five shy of the EWU school record for points in a single game, held by Vanessa Jones (1989-1991), who scored 38 against Lewis-Clark on Dec. 5, 1990. It is also the single-best offensive performance, in terms of points and field goals made, for any player in the Big Sky this season. Ryan has scored in double digits in all but three of Eastern's contests this year, including the last six in a row. She has had at least 20 points in four of the last six outings. She is averaging 21.2 points in conference play, which is nearly two points more than any other player in the league.

Coop Climbing the Charts
Just a junior, Chene Cooper has already cracked the top 10 list in two categories of the EWU career record book. Cooper has 141 total steals thus far in her career, which ranks sixth in the EWU record book. Fifty-seven of those steals came last season, which is the seventh-best single-season performance in Eastern history. She has 265 total assists in her career, which ranks ninth in the record book. Coop has had two games this season with 10+ assists, including a career-high 14 against Sacramento State on Jan. 22. That performance was the best turned in by any player in the Big Sky this season.

Piper Rules Big Sky's Senior Class
Julie Piper
has proved to be the most efficient senior shooter in the Big Sky Conference at this point in the season. She owns the top mark for all seniors in the league in field goal percentage (.491) and free throw percentage (.854). Piper also has the most career rebounds (681) of all active players in the Big Sky, and is one of seven active players to have 1,000+ points in her career. Piper hit the 1,000-point mark this season, and now has 1,067 in her career, which is just of the top 10 in the EWU record book.

Sparavalo Sizzles Off the Bench
Eastern's "sixth man," Tatjana Sparavalo, has scored in double figures in 12 of Eastern's 17 games, including the last five in a row. She is currently Eastern's second-leading scorer with 12.2 points per game, which she has earned in 339 minutes off the bench. She has recorded four double-doubles this season, an accomplishment only two other players in the Big Sky have reached. She tied her career high scoring mark with 24 points in Eastern's narrow 75-68 loss at Northern Colorado. She had four three pointers in that contest.

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).

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 three players who average five or more rebounds per game. Each class (Fr., So., Jr., Sr.) is represented in the aforementioned statistics.

Coop Sets Two Career Highs Against Anteaters
Junior point guard 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 Anteaters, and pulled down a team-leading 10 rebounds in the contest. Her previous career highs in those categories were 23 points and eight rebounds.

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 15 of the current season. She has started 99 of those 106 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 11 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 15.1 minutes per game. A product of Southridge High School in Portland, Ore., Ashenfelter averages 2.6 points per game for Eastern and has dished out 28 assists, the second-most on the team. Freshman Laura Hughes, who came to Eastern from Richland, Wash., has also been an important player off the bench this season. As Eastern's tallest player at 6-2, Hughes provides depth in the post, averaging 2.1 rebounds per game and 3.3 points. She has played 118 total minutes this season, including a season-high 22 against national-powerhouse Gonzaga on Dec. 3.

There's No Place Like Home
Six of Eastern's eight wins in the 2010-11 season have come on Reese Court. The Eagles have dropped only two contests in Cheney, both of which were to powerful opponents from the West Coast Conference. The Eagles fell to Portland in its second outing of the year, 77-58. Eastern then dropped a 101-74 decision at the hands of Gonzaga, who was a sweet 16 team in 2010 and has received votes in nearly half of the AP Top 25 polls this season. Eastern shoots 44 percent from the field at home, compared to 39 percent when on the road. EWU has also out-rebounded its opponents on Reese Court, 324-286, and has a 144-92 edge in assists.

Sparavalo Earns December Scholar-Athlete Honors
Senior Tatjana Sparavalo was selected as EWU's Female Scholar-Athlete of the Month for December. Sparavalo, a native of Novi Sad, Serbia, earned her bachelor's degree from Eastern in just three years. With a 3.62 cumulative GPA, she graduated cum laude in 2010 with a degree in business administration. She is currently working on her master's in business at EWU. One of three seniors on the 2010-11 squad, Sparavalo has provided incredible leadership on and off the court. She serves as Eastern's invaluable "sixth man," averaging 19.9 minutes off the bench. She is the second-leading scorer and rebounder on the team with 12.2 points and 5.6 caroms per contest. Sparavalo has also made the most three pointers of any player on the EWU roster (30), and her three-point field goal percentage of .429 is among the top five in the Big Sky Conference. Eleven of her 30 treys came in the month of December, and her percentage in the six games on the month was an even .500. She has led Eastern in scoring on six different occasions in the 2010-11 campaign, including two games in December. Beyond her athletic contributions, Sparavalo has been named to the Big Sky All-Academic team for three consecutive years.

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.

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.

Ryan 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.

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.

Bringing Back the Blog
Senior Kyla Evans, is "bringing back the blog." As a freshman in 2007, Evans provided a blog for readers of www.goeags.com. Now, as a senior captain on the EWU squad, Evans will return to her role as the public voice of Eastern Washington women's basketball.  Once a month, she will provide commentary on the happenings of the squad, as they strive for another memorable season! Check back to the women's basketball page on www.goeags.com to follow Kyla and her creative contributions.

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.
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