Eagles suffer first-half scoring drought, while BYU pours in 27 from the free-throw line to hand EWU first road loss of season
After knocking down four treys in the first nine minutes of the game, the Eastern Washington University women's basketball team went cold, converting only two shots in the final 11 minutes of the first half. Eastern found itself in a 17-point hole at intermission, and despite an honest effort in the second half, the Eags were unable to recoup the losses, as BYU rolled to a 77-58 victory on Saturday (Nov. 26) at the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah.
The Eagles opened the contest with back-to-back 3-pointers from sophomore Aubrey Ashenfelter and senior Brianne Ryan. Ryan, the reigning Big Sky Player of the Week, drained another three and hit two free throws to give Eastern an 11-5 lead before the first media timeout.
Eastern extended the lead to 14-11 after Chenise Pakootas converted her first shot of the day, which was another from beyond the arc. But soon after nailing that fourth 3-pointer, the drought hit for the visiting Eags.
"We had watched film of BYU's game with Wisconsin the day before, and we thought their press might give us some problems," said EWU head coach Wendy Schuller. "But we actually did a good job of handling ourselves against the press early in the game. When BYU stopped pressing and went to a solid man-to-man defense, that's when we started having issues. We really struggled to execute our game plan."
BYU went on a 15-0 run before freshman point guard Kylie Huerta gave Eastern its first points in nearly six minutes. Huerta's bucket did little to sway the momentum though, as the Cougars scored seven-straight points to extend their lead to 33-16. Junior Jordan Schoening hit Eastern's fifth three-pointer of the half, but BYU's Xojian Harry answered to make it 36-19 at the break.
After shooting just 24 percent in the first 20 minutes, Eastern improved in the second half to nearly 40 percent. The Eagles hit three more from long range, but BYU was able to make up the difference at the free throw line.
The Cougars made it to the line 37 times in the game, and converted 27 of those 37 attempts. Seven different players for BYU scored at least two from the charity stripe, while its 6-7 center, Jennifer Hamson, went 9-of-11.
Eastern also lost the turnover battle, committing 21 in the game, compared to 15 for the Cougars. BYU scored 17 points off the Eagle miscues.
"Credit to BYU, because they were doing a great job of getting into our passing lanes," said Schuller. "They were making us run our offense from further out, and it gave us trouble. We turned it over way too much, especially there in the first half."
Although as a team, Eastern struggled to put points on the board, Ryan managed to get hers, as she turned in her third-straight 20+ scoring effort. The Lynden, Wash., native finished with 22 tallies on 6-of-13 shooting and seven made free throws. She also grabbed eight rebounds and had one steal in Saturday's contest.
Ryan was the only Eagle in double figures. Ashenfelter finished with seven points, while junior Carrie Ojeda also chipped in seven. Ojeda led EWU on the glass with nine rebounds.
"We're not going to win games shooting the way we did in the first half," said Schuller. "But BYU is a very good team and hopefully we're better for it having had this tough early road test."