Eagles Ride Wave of Threes to Dominating Win

Jan. 29, 2009

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On the strength of 13 three-point baskets, the Eastern Washington University women’s basketball team defeated Montana State, 90-75, in a Big Sky Conference game on Thursday evening (Jan. 29).

The 13 threes were just one away from Eastern’s school record of 14, set in a 75-48 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Dec. 5, 1998. The 15-point margin of victory was EWU’s best in a Big Sky game since a 68-47 win over Northern Colorado on March 1, 2007.

The 90 points scored were the most for the team since a 103-102 overtime loss to Gonzaga on Dec. 9, 2006. It was also the highest total against an NCAA Division I team in regulation since a 91-54 victory over Sacramento State on Feb. 12, 2004.

The victory moved the Eagles (9-11, 4-3 BSC) into sole possession of third place in the Big Sky standings.

“(The win) was important to us, because we do not have many home games left,” head coach Wendy Schuller said. “We had a little bit of an offensive explosion, and that was really nice to see. Our guards did not have a lot of production against Portland State (a 65-55 loss), and they kind of went off tonight.”

Three Eagles had 18 or more points apiece tonight. Nicole Scott and Julie Piper each tallied 19, while Kyla Evans contributed 18. Piper also set the team pace in rebounds with 13, while Scott came off the bench for 11 boards. Evans was 6-of-10 on three-point shots, three makes away from the school mark (held at nine by Susan Smith-Blakely in a 71-68 win over Weber State on Feb. 13, 1988). 

Jessica Huntington had seven helpers and an impressive 7-to-1 assist-turnover ratio. She was also a weapon herself on the offensive end, scoring eight points on 3-of-5 shooting, 2-of-4 from the three-point line. Brianne Ryan scored in double figures tonight with 12 tallies.

As a team, Eastern shot 48.1 percent from the three-point line (13-of-27) and 48.5 percent from the floor as a whole (33-of-68). The team also out-rebounded Montana State tonight by a commanding 48-28 count.

Both teams played with a high energy level throughout the game.

“Montana State always play extremely hard,” Schuller said. “They have a work-like mentality; we talked a lot about having to match it. We had to be workhorses, get on the glass and after loose balls, and I thought our team bought into that and did a really nice job.

“We are just scratching and clawing to get every Big Sky win we can get.”

The Bobcats (8-11, 2-5 BSC) had control of most of the first half, turning an early 2-0 Eastern lead into a 16-7 Montana State advantage. The visitors then lead throughout the majority of the first half until Eastern put together a game-changing 24-7 run to go up 53-42 with 16:37 to play. The Eagles then held at least a five-point advantage the rest of the way and even went up by as many as 18 late, 90-72.

“We are a team that is starting to play pretty good basketball, and we are going to continue to get better as we get into the second half of conference play,” Schuller said.

Eastern now looks ahead to a home game against Montana. Tip-off is set for 2:05 p.m. on Saturday (Jan. 31). The Grizzlies fell at Portland State tonight 72-62 in a battle of 6-0 Big Sky teams to drop to 17-4, 6-1 in Big Sky play. Montana entered the week receiving votes in both the AP and USA Today/ESPN women’s basketball poll.

“I know that we have a battle in front of us, because Montana is a very good basketball team,” Schuller said.

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