January 15, 2007

Time to Hit the Road Again

Jan. 15, 2007

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The Eastern Washington Eagles (6-11, 1-3 Big Sky Conference) hit the road once again this week, playing away contests versus Northern Arizona (10-7, 3-1 BSC) and Northern Colorado (3-13, 0-4 BSC). The NAU contest begins at 5:35 p.m. PT on Thursday (Jan. 18), while the Bears and Eagles face off at 1:05 p.m. PT on Saturday.

The Eagles are coming off a tough week which saw Eastern drop a 90-60 decision to the defending regular-season champion Idaho State Bengals before falling in a heartbreaker, 84-82, at Portland State.

There were several impressive individual performances, however. Versus ISU, Sydney Benson recorded her third double-double of the season with team-high totals of 17 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks. As a team, the Eagles had 10 blocks, tying themselves for the most by a Big Sky team in 2006-07 (the other instance of 10 blocks was recorded versus Montana Tech on Nov. 10).

Phynique Allen had Eastern's highest scoring output of 2006-07 against Portland State, as she had 26 points. The total also broke the sophomore's previous career high of 22. She nailed all 10 of her free throws that night. The Eagles as a team hit on 88.0 percent of their free throws on the night (22-of-25).

Nicole Scott hit on 8-of-13 shooting versus the Vikings and scored 19 points, a career high point total for the freshman. She also led the team in rebounds in the contest with eight.

Northern Arizona is coming off a historic night, as senior Alyssa Wahl became the all-time leading scorer in NAU history on Saturday, as the Lumberjacks topped Sacramento State, 83-46. She enters Thursday's contest with the Eagles having scored 1,453 points in her career.

As a team, the Lumberjacks are currently in fourth place in the Big Sky standings, trailing a trio of undefeated teams in Weber State (4-0), Montana (3-0) and Idaho State (2-0). Northern Arizona's lone league loss came to Weber State in both team's opening league game. The score in Ogden, Utah, was 79-64.

Last season, the Lumberjacks claimed the Big Sky Tournament with a 74-59 win over WSU before falling to Baylor in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, 74-56. The advancement to the NCAA's was the first in program history for the Lumberjacks.

Dating back to 1980, Eastern Washington leads the all-time series between the teams, 22-18, and has won 7-of-9 meetings. In games played in Flagstaff, NAU leads, 12-8. Last year, EWU won at home, 67-57, and lost on the road, 74-61.

Northern Colorado is in its first season of Big Sky play and is having a rough time of it so far, as the Bears are at the bottom of the league standings with a 0-4 conference mark.

The Bears are in their third season of playing an NCAA Division I schedule and, as they are still in their probationary period, are not eligible to compete in the Big Sky Tournament. The team went 13-15 least year and 12-16 the year before playing as an independent.

The Eagles and Bears have never met on the basketball court. The game will be EWU's first in the state of Colorado since the Eagles faced Denver on Jan. 8, 2004.

Awesome Allen

Phynique Allen had an outstanding game on Saturday (Jan. 13) versus Portland State, as the sophomore set season highs for the Eagles in points scored with 26 and free throw percentage after nailing all 10 attempted. The last Eagle to make 100 percent of her free throws while attempting 10 or more was Kathleen Nygaard, as she hit on 10-of-10 in a 61-60 win over Portland on Dec. 30, 2001.

Allen also has earned season-high totals for the Eagles in assists in a game (8) and steals in a contest (5), both earned versus Portland State on Dec. 31.

Sensational Scott

Eagle freshman Nicole Scott was hitting on all cylinders on Saturday evening (Jan. 13) against the Portland State Vikings, as she hit on 8-of-13 shooting for a career-high point total of 19. Her previous high of 14 was set two days previously versus Idaho State.

Scott blocked five Viking shots that night, which is the most putbacks earned by an Eagle in a contest so far this season. Only one other Big Sky player has recorded as many in a contest this season (Weber State's Shantee Releford versus Western Carolina on Nov. 24).

Catch (and Shoot) Chadd

Joanna Chadd has hit threes throughout her Eastern Washington career and this year is no different for the Eagle senior. She made six from beyond the three-point stripe versus Corban College on Nov. 17 (tied for the most by a Big Sky player in 2006-07) and made five each against Portland (Dec. 31) and Washington State (Dec. 2).

Overall, she is shooting 40.7 percent on three-point attempts (44-of-108).

Chadd is also a top free throw shooter, as evidenced by her 83.7 percent average (41-of-49).

Eagles Open League Play with Clutch Win

Eastern Washington opened up the 2006-07 Big Sky Conference season in dramatic fashion, pulling out a 69-66 victory on the road against Montana State.

In the game, the Eagles countered a 9-0 MSU run to end the first half with a 12-0 spurt early in the second stanza. After that point, the teams remained close down the wire, but Joanna Chadd erased Montana State's final lead of the game with a big three with 3:59 showing on the clock. That basket gave EWU a 64-62 advantage.

Chadd put the game away with a jumper with 21 seconds left, and the victory was secure when MSU's Alyssa Nelson missed a three-point shot at the buzzer.

After the Bobcats shot 48.6 percent in the first half, the Eagles put the clamps down and held MSU to just 17.9 percent shooting in the second stanza.

The win marked the fifth consecutive Big Sky season-opening victory for the Eagles.

Let's Party Like It's 19 ... I Mean 2006!

Eastern Washington completed an impressive win over the visiting Portland Pilots, 84-66, on Dec. 31. The game was just the fourth in history for Eastern on New Year's Eve, as EWU improved to 3-1 in games played on this date. The previous games on that particular date came in 2003 (a 72-69 win over Gonzaga at Spokane Arena), 2000 (an 81-58 home victory over Colgate) and 1993 (a 64-42 loss at Washington).

The game saw a number of impressive individual performances for the Eagles. Phynique Allen set (and still holds) Eagle season and personal career highs in both assists (8) and steals (5). Joanna Chadd tallied 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting (5-of-8 on three-point attempts) to mark the sixth time so far this season she has hit or surpassed the 20-point mark. Brittney Osborn set a career high in points with 20 versus the Pilots.

Eastern took control of the game right from the opening tip, taking commanding 14-0 and 21-2 leads. The Pilots would not drain its second field goal of the game until 10:28 had elapsed off the clock.

Northwestern State Goes Down

The Eagles ended a six-game losing streak on Dec. 15, earning a 71-67 victory over Northwestern State. Phynique Allen got EWU's scoring going by tallying the first 11 Eagle points of the night. She would finish with 16 tallies, at the time the second-highest point total of her career.

Brittney Osborn led the Eagles in scoring by tallying 17 points, marking the first time this season she has led the team in scoring.

"Brit did a great job coming off the bench and bringing in a great deal of energy," head coach Wendy Schuller said. "It's like having another starter on your bench. She has bought into the role of being the best sixth man in our league. You need to have those kinds of players on your team and to have that positive attitude to embrace the role."

Sydney Benson also had an impressive night, recording her second double-double of the season, contributing 14 points and leading all players with 13 rebounds.

Eastern would lead by as many as 12 before Northwestern State rallied late to tie the game at 61 with 3:34 left. At that point, Eastern Washington showed its resolve, scoring the next six points to pull away and put the game out of reach.

Eastern Washington Welcomes Southern Teams

Northwestern State (located in Natchitoches, La.) and Davidson (located in Davidson, N.C.) became the first two schools from the South to ever visit Cheney to play the Eagles, taking on Eastern in a four-day span in mid-December.

The closest school geographically to the South to ever play on the Eastern Washington campus was Texas-Pan American, who fell to Eastern, 59-45, on Dec. 6, 2002.

Eastern defeated Northwestern State on Dec. 15 by a 71-67 score to snap a six-game losing streak before falling to Davidson, 67-58, three days later.

Spokane-Area Rivalry: 103-102!

Eastern Washington and Gonzaga played a run-and-gun contest on Dec. 9, before the visiting Bulldogs pulled out a razor-thin 103-102 overtime victory over the Eagles.

Neither team had previously played in a game where both squads scored 100 or more points.

The last time that Eastern Washington reached 100 points in any game came 19 years ago, in a 105-79 win at Portland State on Dec. 11, 1987.

In the 35 contests played between the teams, never before had even one team scored 100 or more points. The overtime contest was the first in the all-time series, as well.

The 102 points scored is still tied for the most by a Big Sky team in 2006-07, but is the most against NCAA Division I opposition (Idaho State did so versus Montana Tech and Montana-Western).

Free Throws Are Falling From the Sky

The Eagles broke their school record for free throws made in their dramatic 103-102 overtime loss to Gonzaga on Dec. 9, shooting 36-of-46 from the charity stripe.

The previous record of 35 made was set on Feb. 5, 2004, in an 80-75 Eagle win over Montana State. The school record of 48 attempts was also set in that contest.

The 36 made versus GU is also the fourth-highest total in Big Sky Conference history.

UW Visits For First Time in 16 Years

The Washington Huskies paid its initial visit to Cheney in 16 years on Nov. 21 and narrowly left town with a win.

The Huskies took control the majority of the game, taking as high as a 15-point lead, but the Eagles would quickly respond with a 17-4 run to tie the contest at 42-all with 11:29 remaining. The teams remained close down the stretch before Washington claimed its 67-59 win. The Eagles trailed by just two with 5:08 left and four with 1:49 remaining.

What a Start!

The Eagles started the season with a 3-0 record for the first time in 22 years by sandwiching a pair of home victories over Montana Tech and Corban College with an impressive 20-point road win over UC Irvine.

Versus the Montana Tech Orediggers, Eastern used 12-2, 14-2 and 7-0 runs to claim the 75-69 victory. The final spurt came with the score tied at 67 just two minutes from the final buzzer.

A 22-5 run early in the second half versus UC Irvine allowed the Eagles to pull away from the Anteaters in their 80-60 victory.

Versus Corban College, Eastern Washington used a commanding 30-9 run to put separation between the two teams and won, 96-57.

Eagles Third in Big Sky Attendance

Eastern Washington has seen a high number of people attend games so far this season, as evidenced by its average attendance of 820, which places the Eagles third among Big Sky Conference teams.

The two Montana schools pace the league, as Montana has drawn 3,546 per contest and Montana State is averaging 1,310. Following the Eagles, two schools average from 600-700 per game and the remaining quartet average between 200-500 per contest.

Roster Breakdown - Hometowns

Eastern Washington's roster, as always, has a strong Washington flair to it, as nine of the 14 players reside in the Evergreen State. Four of those are from cities located east of the Cascades: Katy Baker (Spokane), Anny Eller (Kennewick), Leah Gonnella (Spokane) and Jessica Huntington (Yakima). Of the remaining five players, one each is from California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Oregon.

Success in the Big Sky

The past two seasons, the Eagles have compiled consecutive .500-or-better conference seasons for the first time since the 1986-87 and 1987-88 campaigns. In 2004-05, the Eagles went 8-6 in Big Sky play, 16-12 overall. The following season, EWU's record was 7-7 in conference action, 13-15 overall.

EWU enters the 2006-07 campaign having qualified for the six-team Big Sky Conference Tournament in each of head coach Wendy Schuller's five years at the helm of the Eagles. Overall, Eastern has participated in seven consecutive tournaments after playing in just three the first 11 years the BSC sponsored women's sports.

Big Sky Conference Poll

The Eagles were selected fifth (tied with Portland State) in the Big Sky Conference's media poll, while EWU placed sixth in the coaches poll. The favorite chosen by the media was defending tournament champion Northern Arizona, while the coaches were not able to differentiate between defending regular-season champ Idaho State and Montana, as the two teams tied for their top spot.

And the Honors Go To ...

Eastern Washington as a team was honored over the summer, being named to the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Academic Top 25 Honor Roll. It marked the fourth consecutive season the Eagles had ranked third or higher in the rankings. That span included a No. 1 ranking in 2003-04.

Audio/Video Coverage

All of the 2006-07 women's basketball home games will be audio broadcast free of charge, along with selected road contests. Announcing the contests are Alyssa Chambers and Brandon Hansen. For more information, access www.teamline.cc.

All games played either at Reese Court or on the road in Big Sky Conference play will be available to view on the Internet at www.bigskytv.org. The cost is $59.95 for a 2006-07 season pass for EWU games (which also includes men's basketball contests and archived football and volleyball games) and $99.95 for all Big Sky teams. Single games can be viewed for $6.95.

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