January 4, 2009

Eagles Move to 2-0 in Big Sky, Knock Off Sacramento State

Jan. 4, 2009

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The Eastern Washington University women’s basketball team is off to its best Big Sky Conference start in four years at 2-0 after defeating Sacramento State on Sunday afternoon (Jan. 4) by a 69-64 score. The Eagles improved to 7-8 overall with the win.

The last time Eastern Washington won its first two league games of the season came in 2004-05 when the Eagles defeated Portland State 77-46 and Idaho State 66-52 on their way to a 4-0 start to its Big Sky campaign that year. On Friday (Jan. 2), the Eagles outlasted Northern Arizona 70-64 in overtime in its league opener.

“I am really proud of our team’s effort today, in terms of finding ways to win down the stretch,” head coach Wendy Schuller said. “We knew going into this weekend it was important that we take care of the home floor, and I am extremely happy that we were able to do that. At critical times we got some big stops, and we also made some big baskets.”

Julie Piper led the way offensively for the Eagles today, scoring 21 points on 7-of-12 shooting. She also made 7-of-9 from the free throw line and led the team in rebounding with eight and steals with two. The point total is a career high and the most scored by any Eagle this year.

“Julie had a nice weekend overall,” Schuller said. “She had been struggling a little shooting the ball. She shot a really high percentage this weekend (52.0 percent, 13-of-25) and was really aggressive on the offensive boards (garnering 10 of Eastern’s 28 offensive boards over the weekend, 5-of-14 each game).”

Two other Eagles contributed a dozen points apiece in Kyla Evans and Nicole Scott. Evans made 4-of-9 from the floor and 2-of-3 from the free throw line, while Scott was successful on three of her six field goal attempts and converted all six of her charity tosses.

The game was so close early on that neither team garnered greater than a three-point lead until the Eagles wrapped up a 5-0 run with 12:32 to play in the second half on a Piper lay-up, going up 45-40. However, Sacramento State stormed back with a 7-0 run to tie the game back up and then take a 47-45 advantage with 10:43 to play.

Another five-point edge was quickly gained back by the Eagles, 52-47, when Eastern immediately responded with its own 7-0 run. However, the Hornets (2-13, 0-2 BSC) chipped at the lead and proceeded to tie the game 54-54 with exactly five minutes to play.

The Eagles were able to finally put some distance between the teams when the team pulled away from the 16th, and final, tie of the game, 56-56 with an 8-0 run to go up 64-56 with 2:10 to play. After the Hornets quickly cut their deficit to 64-61 with 1:02 left, the Eagles put away the game with five converted free throws to close the game.

Eastern now hits the road and takes on Idaho State at 6:05 p.m. Pacific Time on Thursday (Jan. 8). The Bengals snapped a five-game losing streak with a 60-55 road win over Northern Colorado in their Big Sky opener today to improve to 4-10, 1-0 in Big Sky Conference play.

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