Eastern looks to snap four-game losing streak against Bears in an important Big Sky matchup
It’s been awhile since the Eastern Washington University women’s basketball team has celebrated a win over the Bears of Northern Colorado. But this year, odds may be in favor of EWU, as Northern Colorado has been abysmal on the road.
The Eagles and Bears will face off in Cheney on Saturday (Jan. 19) at 2:05 p.m. Eastern will then have a quick turnaround, as it plays at Portland State on Monday (Jan. 21) at 7:30 p.m. Both games can be followed via a live webcast at www.bigskytv.org.
Northern Colorado Preview
Northern Colorado comes to Cheney with a 1-8 road record in the 2012-13 campaign. But that one win did come in its most recent outing Thursday at Portland State. With a dominant 67-42 victory in the Rose City, the Bears managed to break a 10-game road losing streak dating back to last season.
EWU also picked up a win on Thursday when it rallied from an 11-point deficit early in the second half to beat North Dakota, 75-72. Because of injuries suffered in its prior game at Sac State, Eastern was playing without sophomore forward Melissa Williams, who had started 13 of 15 games leading up to Thursday, and junior center Laura Hughes. But the Eagles found a way to get it done despite an undersized roster. Four different players scored in double figures, and EWU forced 23 UND turnovers, while turning in a nearly flawless performance from the free throw line at 19-of-22 on the night.
With both teams coming in with momentum, Saturday’s contest between EWU and UNC should be a spirited one, made even more so considering that Eastern has not beat the Bears since the 2009-10 season. Although the games for the most part have been closely-contested, EWU has dropped the last four regular-season meetings with UNC.
Right now, the two teams are separated in the Big Sky standings by just a 1/2 game. UNC owns a 4-2 league record, while EWU is just behind at 4-3. In fact, only one game separates the No. 3 - 6 teams in the league right now. While still early, a win Saturday could do a lot for both squads come positioning at the end of the year.
Along with having two players who rank in the top 10 in scoring in the Big Sky, Northern Colorado currently leads the league in scoring defense. The Bears have held their opponents to just 55.0 points per game this year on 36.4 percent shooting. UNC’s rebounding margin of +6.5 is second in the Big Sky and ranks 39th nationally.
Junior guard D’shara Strange and senior forward Lauren Oosdyke, both of whom were 2012 All-Big Sky selections, combine for 26 points and 12 rebounds per game to lead the Bears.
Portland State Preview
The Eagles will have its first meeting of the year against Dam Cup rival Portland State on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The Vikings share the same overall record as EWU at 8-8, but have struggled in conference play, going 2-5 to start the 2013 campaign. PSU has lost four of its last five games, and the one victory against Northern Arizona was a narrow 60-59 decision.
Portland State caught a bad break earlier this year when junior guard Kate Lanz suffered a season-ending knee injury. Lanz, the reigning BSC Newcomer of the Year, was averaging 8.6 points, 6.5 rebounds a team-leading 3.4 assists before the injury.
Currently leading the team is senior guard Courtney VanBrocklin, who averages 15.5 points per game to rank second in the Big Sky. Oregon State transfer Angela Misa is also a major threat for PSU, averaging a double-double of 10.6 points and 10.6 rebounds.
For the last three-consecutive years, EWU and PSU have split the regular-season series. The Eagles won at home in 2010 and 2011, and picked up a win in Portland in the most recent 2012 meeting.
THE DAM CUP: The Portland State Vikings and Eastern Washington Eagles began a five sport rivalry cup called The Dam Cup in 2010-11. The Dam Cup celebrates the friendly rivalry between the states of Oregon and Washington within the Big Sky Conference. The five sports competing for the cup are football, women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, women’s basketball and men’s basketball. Monday’s game will be the first of two women’s basketball Dam Cup games this season. The Vikings have claimed the first two Dam Cups and leads 5-4 this season.