Eastern Stays Close with Defending Champs on Road
Feb. 16, 2008
Even with a not-so-stellar record, the Eastern Washington University women's basketball team headed into its Saturday afternoon (Feb. 16) road game with the defending Big Sky Conference champion Idaho State Bengals full of confidence that a well-played game was ahead. They were proven right, although the powerful Bengals were just too much for the Eagles and pulled away late in the second half for a 73-62 win.
"We played extremely hard and did a lot of things necessary to win," head coach Wendy Schuller said. "Idaho State is a very good basketball team and, in the second half, they stepped up and made big plays when they needed to. That was a dagger in our heart - we were hanging around and had a really good shot to win (before two straight threes pushed an ISU six-point lead with 3:40 to go up to 12)."
Tatjana Sparavalo had an outstanding game today, as she contributed 24 points, the most scored by an Eagle player in a game this year. She made 10-of-16 attempts from the floor and 3-of-4 from the free throw stripe (9-of-11 and 2-of-2, respectively, in the first half).
"Tatjana had a good first half," Schuller said. "When she gets hot and starts feeling it, you have to watch out. Idaho State did make it tough for her to get shots in the second half, but overall she did a good job."
Jessica Huntington had her second double-digit assist total of the season and had an incredible 10-to-0 assist-to-turnover ratio today.
"Jess took care of the ball today and a 10-0 (assists-to-turnover ratio) is much more than you can ever ask for," Schuller said.
Nicole Scott blocked five Idaho State shot attempts for an Eagle season high in that category, as well. Sydney Benson had a double-double today, as she also contributed 15 points and 12 rebounds to the Eagle effort.
Also contributing double-digit point totals for the Eagles today were Scott (11) and Julie Piper (10).
"Piper plays extremely hard for us and brings a lot of energy," Schuller said. "She had a tough defensive assignment tonight in guarding Andrea Lightfoot and did a nice job."
Eastern (4-21, 1-11 BSC) came out strong in the first half, leading nearly the entire period, as the Bengals held a lead for just two minutes of the 20. The Eagles had their largest advantage of the half of six twice early on, 6-0 and 8-2. Idaho State would take a 26-22 advantage with 5:03 to go before EWU scored six straight points to take a 28-26 advantage. Eastern held a 32-29 edge at the break.
The Eagles then came out strong to start the second half and tied their largest lead with 18:16 to go when a Piper jumper earned EWU a 36-30 lead. After the Bengals were able to take the lead back, Sparavalo nailed a clutch three to earn the Eagles a 46-44 advantage with 11:19 showing on the clock.
Unfortunately for Eastern, Idaho State then proceeded to score the next 13 points. The Eagles did have one last gasp with five minutes to go when a 6-0 spurt pulled their deficit down to just five at 59-54 (Benson scored four of those points), but an ensuing 11-2 Bengal run put the game out of each for Eastern.
The Eagles shot 45.0 percent from the floor today (15-of-33), their best shooting percentage in a Big Sky game this year.
Idaho State (16-7, 8-3 BSC) moved into sole possession of second place in the Big Sky with its win.
The Eagles now head home to close out the 2007-08 regular season with four straight home games. First up will be Northern Colorado at 2:05 p.m. on Saturday (Feb. 23). The Bears are 11-12, 5-5 in Big Sky play, and will play at Portland State on Thursday (Feb. 21) prior to meeting Eastern in UNC's final regular-season road game of the season.