Jan. 31, 2008
Even though the Eastern Washington University women's basketball team fell to Montana State in a Big Sky Conference game in Bozeman, Mont., on Thursday night (Jan. 31) by an 83-70 score, the Eagles saw a number of players provide impressive performances.
Sydney Benson continued her hot shooting touch tonight, as she made 7-of-11 shots (63.6 percent) and tied her career high in points with 20 (she also had that total against Gonzaga on Dec. 9, 2006). Including her performance versus Portland State on Saturday (Jan. 26), she has made 13-of-20 from the field in those two contests (65.0 percent).
The junior also made all six of her free throws tonight and has made 82.9 percent on the season (63-of-76), which would place her second in all-time Eastern history for a single season.
Meanwhile, Tatjana Sparavalo nailed 6-of-11 attempts from the floor (54.5 percent) to snap out of a 2-of-17 slump she had over the last two contests. Sparavalo scored 16 points in tonight's contest to mark the seventh time in her last 10 outings that she has reached double digits in points.
Jessica Huntington has continued to show her prowess in passing the basketball, as she tallied nine assists tonight. That is the fourth time this season she has had at least nine assists in a game and the second consecutive (Huntington compiled 10 on Saturday versus Portland State). No Eagle had posted nine helpers since Leah Gonnella did so against Montana State on Jan. 26, 2006. Huntington played just seconds under 40 minutes tonight and only committed three turnovers for an outstanding 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Nicole Scott posted a double-double in the contest, as she had 16 points on 7-of-16 shooting and grabbed 11 rebounds to earn her third double-double of the season. The rebound total is the second-most of the sophomore's career.
"We had a lot of kids who offensively stepped up for us," head coach Wendy Schuller said. "Syd did a great job finishing inside, Jess played really well and ran the show, Nicole getting 11 boards was big - we need her to do that for us, be a monster on the glass - and Tatjana shot the ball better.
"I was really pleased with our effort tonight. We played extremely hard and had great heart and emotion. We are disappointed coming out on the losing end, but I am pleased with our effort and thought we grew as a team tonight. If we continue to play this hard, we will be a better the second half of league play."
Speaking of effort, the Eagles took the rebounding battle tonight, 35-30.
The first seven minutes of the game were tight, as neither team was able to garner greater than a three-point lead until a Tatjana Sparavalo three-point basket earned Eastern a 15-10 advantage with 12:55 left in the half. That would end up being the highest advantage for either team in the stanza.
Montana State, however, had control of most of the second half. The Bobcats went up 45-38 and 47-40 before a 6-2 Eagle run and a Jessica Huntington trey brought EWU to within three at 49-46. Unfortunately for the Eagles that was when the Bobcats started pulling away, utilizing a 12-2 run to earn a 61-48 margin. Eastern would not get closer than nine points the rest of the way.
The Eagles continue their trip to the Treasure State with a contest at Montana (16-4, 6-1 BSC) at 6:05 p.m. Pacific Time on Saturday (Feb. 2). The Grizzlies won a Big Sky showdown with Portland State - each team entered the game tied for first place - by staving off a tremendous Viking rally in the second half to claim a 77-73 overtime victory tonight. Montana had held a 61-50 advantage with five minutes to play before a 13-2 Portland State run earned a tie and the teams ended regulation tied at 65.