Eagles Bury Arkansas State, 72-51

Eastern disrupts A-State's offense with season-high 19 steals, as Eags improve to 4-4 heading into matchup with No. 24 Gonzaga  

With four players scoring in double figures, and an even more impressive defensive effort, the Eastern Washington University women's basketball team rolled to a 72-51 victory against Arkansas State on Saturday (Dec. 3) at the ASU Classic in Tempe, Ariz.

Eastern (4-4) recorded one of its better field goal percentages of the season at 43.3, and also had a 36-18 advantage in points in the paint. But much of its success on Saturday came on the defensive end, as the Eags forced a season-high 31 turnovers in the game. The Red Wolves attempted just 45 total field goals - the fewest by any Eagle opponent this season.

Nine different Eastern players grabbed at least one steal, while all five of the starters had two or more.

The Red Wolves scored the first six points of the game on back-to-back 3-pointers, but that lead didn't last long, as EWU scored six unanswered points at the free throw and converted two layups to take a 10-8 lead at the 13:55 mark.

The score remained close until the final three minutes of the half when EWU went on a 12-5 run, sparked by two-straight fast break buckets from senior Chene Cooper. Eastern went into the locker room with a 39-30 lead. Eastern is 4-0 this season when leading at the half.

Cooper converted another layup in the opening minutes of the second period, giving Eastern its first double-digit lead at 41-30. The Red Wolves cut it to nine with 16:31 remaining, but Eastern scored 20 of the next 25 points to effectively put the game out of reach with a 60-37 advantage on the scoreboard. Eastern maintained at least a 17-point lead for the final 12:13.

Cooper led all scorers with a season-high 18 points. She was 5-of-8 from the field, and hit all eight of her attempts from the charity stripe. The 5-0 point guard also had four assists and three steals. She was named to the ASU Classic All-Tournament team for her efforts.

Senior Brianne Ryan finished with 13 points on 6-of-12 shooting. The 5-11 guard has scored in double figures in each of Eastern's first eight games of the 2011-12 season. She also grabbed four rebounds and tied her career-high in steals with four.

Junior Carrie Ojeda and sophomore Chenise Pakootas also eclipsed double-digits. Ojeda finished with 10 points on a 5-of-9 effort from the floor, while Pakootas chipped in 11, which included Eastern's only 3-pointer of the game. Pakootas, a native of Inchelium, Wash., has had at least one three in every game of the season.

Eastern will have nearly a week off to concentrate on finals, but will make its return to the court next Friday (Dec. 9) against arguably its best opponent of the seasonThe Eagles will take on No. 24 Gonzaga at  6 p.m. at the McCarthey Center in Spokane, Wash.

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