March 3, 2007

Eagles Play Hearts Out, Fall to Northern Arizona, 66-63

March 3, 2007

Final Stats

The Eastern Washington University women's basketball team continued its strong run to finish off the 2006-07 season, falling to Northern Arizona in a Saturday afternoon (March 3) Big Sky Conference game by a 66-63 score. The Eagles won 3-of-5 games to close out the season after losing 9-of-10 contests prior to that.

Today, Phynique Allen was all over the place, as she scored 25 points to tie for the second-highest point total earned by an Eagle this season. She also had six rebounds, which ties for the second-most she has earned this year. Additionally, Allen tallied six assists, three steals and a pair of blocks. One of those putbacks was an incredible stuff of an NAU lay-up attempt by the 5-6 player with 7:12 remaining in the half (the score was tied, 56-56, at the time). She was firing from the outset, scoring Eastern's first seven points of the game over the initial 1:22 of the contest with a pair of free throws, a three-point basket and a lay-up.

"Phynique really ended the season with a bang," head coach Wendy Schuller said. "I thought her leadership skills really improved throughout the season and offensively she obviously did a great job at scoring points. But, for me, the most important thing was her leadership; that was something we really needed out of our point guard."

Senior Joanna Chadd, playing the final game of her Eagle career, drilled a clutch three with 14 seconds left to pull Eastern to within one, 63-62, and finished the game with six points. Leah Gonnella also completed her collegiate career today, and she contributed an assist to the Eagle effort.

"Joanna Chadd just kept playing and plugging away tonight to give us a chance and she hit the three at the end to keep us in the game, but we just couldn't finish tonight," Schuller said.

Two other players scored in double figures: Sydney Benson (13) and Brittney Osborn (11). Benson set the pace in rebounds with a total of nine. Tara Holgate tied with Allen for the block lead with two of her own, while Osborn came within one of tying an Eagle season high with five steals, leading all players today.

"Sydney Benson did a really great job this season of playing physical inside and getting big rebounds for us," Schuller said. "Syd is a kid who I really expect to be able to put up 15 points a night next season so it's always good to know you have those players returning next season."

With a team free throw shooting percentage of 76.0 in the game (19-of-25), the Eagles finished the 2006-07 season with a school record 71.2 percent average. The previous mark of 71.0 (403-of-568) was set in 1983-84.

The Eagles had control of the contest the entire first half, never relinquishing their lead after scoring the first five points of the stanza, all by Allen. Eastern Washington later used a 6-0 run to improve its lead to 26-16 with 4:16 on the clock. Its largest lead of the game of 10 would be shortly met again at 28-18 with 3:42 remaining.

Northern Arizona (18-11, 11-5 BSC) came out of the locker room on fire, running off nine straight points to earn its first lead, 35-32, with 18:24 on the clock. The teams then played back-and-forth right up to the final buzzer. In that 18-minute span, the teams traded leads six times and were tied on seven occasions. The largest lead of that span by either team in that span was just four (twice by Eastern, three times by the Lumberjacks).

"I thought that Northern Arizona came out at the beginning of the second half with a new look in their eyes and a renewed energy on their faces," Schuller said. "I talked to our players about that and I told them that the first few minutes of the half would be critical. We could either put them away or let them ride back into the game, and they came back into it and ended up winning tonight."

The Eagles conclude their season with a 10-19 mark, 5-11 in Big Sky play.

"The main thing that has changed between the beginning and end of this season is that our kids have matured," Schuller said. "Phynique Allen has played a lot of minutes the last two years and she is almost at the start of her junior year and Sydney Benson is the same way. We have a lot of young kids who have just started to get more experience, and I think we improved on defense over the course of the season, as well."

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