February 12, 2009

Eagles Move into Third-Place Tie with Resounding Win

Feb. 12, 2009

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The Eastern Washington University women's basketball team moved into a tie for third place in the Big Sky Conference standings following a 69-56 home win over Weber State on Thursday evening (Feb. 12). The Eagles are now tied for that spot with Northern Arizona with five games left on their schedule.

For the fourth time this season, Eastern Washington (10-14, 5-6 BSC) rallied from a first-half deficit for a victory, as the Eagles trailed 31-28 at the break in tonight's contest. In the second half, EWU outscored Weber State 41-25 to pull away for its 13-point win.

Eastern had defeated the Wildcats on the road on Jan. 10 by 14 points, 82-68. The two victories marked EWU's first season sweep of Weber State since the 1987-88 season.

"I am pleased with our effort," head coach Wendy Schuller said. "I thought that we really came out and stuck with our game plan, chipped away in the second half and just kind of kept coming and coming. Defensively, we did a really nice job, and we rebounded well and that was great."

Mid-way through the opening stanza, Weber State grabbed early control of the game by taking a 21-13 lead with 9:01 to play. However, the Eagles stormed back with seven straight points to trail by just a single tally, 21-20, with 5:25 showing on the clock. The teams stayed within three points of each other the remainder of the half.

After Weber State (8-15, 3-7 BSC) grabbed a 35-30 advantage with 17:35 to go in the second half, EWU went on an 10-2 spurt to take a slim 40-37 lead with 14:07 left. From there, the Eagles started pulling away, going up 48-39 with 9:30 left and not letting the Wildcats get any closer than six points away the rest of the evening.

Three Eagles had double-digit point totals, including Julie Piper (16), Chene Cooper (14) and Pauline Ferrall (14). Piper set the team pace in rebounds (8), Cooper nearly doubled the freshman's previous career-high point total (8 versus Portland on Dec. 15), and Ferrall shot 6-of-8 from the floor.

In fact, Cooper was clutch down the stretch, making her final six free throw attempts within the last three minutes and converting 9-of-11 from the charity stripe tonight.

"She did a great job down the stretch knocking down free throws," Schuller said. "She made some really big plays for us tonight."

Also, Cameryn Calhoun led the team in assists (4), while Nicole Scott did so in the blocking category (3).

"We are very fortunate we have a group of driven young women who have their eyes set on a goal right now," Schuller said. "We always talk about how your character and toughness is revealed in how you respond to adversity. We dealt with some major adversity last week on the road with a couple of games we felt we should have won, and our players came back this week with great heart. They are all doing a great job of staying focused."

The Eagles play their final home game of the season at 2:05 p.m. on Saturday (Feb. 14) versus Idaho State. The Bengals fell to 7-16, 4-6 in Big Sky play, with a 71-61 loss at Portland State tonight. That result coupled with Eastern's win over the Wildcats propelled EWU past Idaho State and into a third-place tie with Northern Arizona.

Eastern's two seniors, Amy Bratvold and Morgan Rulon, will be honored prior to Saturday's game.

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