Nov. 29, 2007
The Eastern Washington University women's basketball team returns to the friendly confines of Reese Court with a pair of home games this week and three in Cheney in a six-day span.
First, the Eagles take on UC Irvine at 7:05 p.m. on Friday (Nov. 30). The Anteaters are 2-3, but have one two straight, having defeated Cal State Bakersfield and Sacramento State in home contests over the past week. Then on Sunday (Dec. 2), Eastern Washington will take on Utah State (0-5) at 2:05 p.m.
"We're looking forward to getting back home," head coach Wendy Schuller said. "We need to get ourselves on track."
Eastern Washington is coming off a 0-2 road trip over Thanksgiving to Hawaii and the Oahu Classic. The Eagles fell just short of Akron 66-62 in a Thanksgiving Day contest before dropping a 74-50 decision to Marist, a team that played in the 2007 NCAA Sweet 16 and is 6-1 on the season.
Schuller did see some improvements from the team during their trip to Hawaii.
"We improved as a team," Schuller said. "We had different players step up in different situations and knock down shots and make big plays. We spent a lot of time together and that helped our team chemistry and bonding."
In the Akron game, the Eagles went up 31-17 late in the first half, but a 17-2 Zip run earned Akron's first lead of the game at 34-33. The Zips did not relinquish their advantage to Eastern the rest of the way. Against the Red Foxes, Eastern cut a second-half deficit to single digits at nine, 37-28, but Marist responded with an 11-1 run to put the game out of reach.
Eastern's Friday opponent, UC Irvine, has met the Eagles just five times which the Anteaters taking the first two before Eastern won the next three. Last year, Eastern pulled away from UCI early in an early-season game in southern California to defeat the Anteaters 80-60 on Nov. 13.
Meanwhile, Utah State has only played Eastern Washington on two occasions, in the 1981-82 and 1982-83 seasons. Eastern took both of those meetings, including the last one on Nov. 22, 1982, by an 81-67 score.
"UC Irvine and Utah State are both trying to get winning ways going, as we are, and we have to be hungrier and protect our home court," Schuller said.
What Shooting Performances
The Eagles had a pair of outstanding shooting performances in their first two games of the 2007-08 season. Against Montana Tech in the season-opening contest on Nov. 11, the Eagles shot 50.0 percent from beyond the three-point arc (10-of-20) and 91.7 percent from the free throw line (11-of-12).
Eastern Washington then shot 50.0 percent on three-point shots (4-of-8) against Nevada on Nov. 15. Incredibly, that percentage has been surpassed just two previous times in the past three seasons.
Overall, the Eagles are shooting 36.7 percent on three-pointers (33-of-90), second among Big Sky Conference teams. Eastern is shooting 40.5 percent from the floor (104-of-257), the third-highest average among league schools.
Kyla Evans had an incredible start to her collegiate career, as the freshman nailed eight of her first 10 three-point shots. She has since come back to earth a little, but is still shooting an outstanding 42.4 percent on shots from beyond the three-point arc (14-of-33), seventh among Big Sky players.
Also, Evans and Sydney Benson have made 10-of-13 free throws, good for 76.9 percent and tied for the 11th-highest shooting percentage by a Big Sky player.
Katy Baker's 12.4 points per game is the 12th-highest average in the league.
The Eastern Washington Eagles have played outstanding defense so far in 2007-08, as evidenced by the fact that EWU has held its opponents to just 36.6 percent shooting from the floor (112-of-306). That average is tops among all Big Sky Conference teams.
"Defensively, we've done a pretty good job using our scouting report and making players we want to take shots rather than who they want to take those shots," head coach Wendy Schuller said. "We're also doing a good job containing players and contesting shots."
"The problem is that teams are missing 63 percent of their shots, and we're letting them get half of those rebounds (46 percent are offensively rebounded). We can't do that. We have to finish every defensive possession with a rebound. That's going to be our main point of emphasis this weekend."
Eastern is also far and away leading the league in blocks per game with 5.00 (total of 25). Next on the Big Sky leader list is Northern Arizona at 3.86 (27 in seven games).
Passing the Rock
Sophomore point guard Jessica Huntington has led the Eagles in assists throughout the season and is averaging 4.6 per contest, the sixth-highest average among Big Sky Conference players. Also, her assist-to-turnover ratio (1.77, 23-to-13) is the second-highest in the league.
In Eastern Washington's 66-62 loss to Akron on Thursday (Nov. 22), she contributed nine assists to the Eagle cause. That total is the most posted by an Eastern player since Leah Gonnella had nine versus Montana State on Jan. 26, 2006. Nobody has had more than nine since Michelle Demetruk tallied 11 on Jan. 25, 2003, against Portland State.
"I saw some great improvement from Jessica (in Hawaii) in terms of handling some pressure full court and not worrying about it," head coach Wendy Schuller said. "I thought she was real offensive minded."
Kyla's Blog - Everyone's Reading It!
Freshman guard Kyla Evans has been writing a weekly blog on her life adjusting to her first year in college and as an NCAA Division I basketball player. New blogs are posted by Tuesday each week and may be accessed on the women's basketball page at WWW.GOEAGS.COM.
Quartet Signs with Eagles
Four players have signed letters of intent on Wednesday (Nov. 14) to attend Eastern Washington University and play for the women's basketball squad, head coach Wendy Schuller announced. The signees will begin their Eastern careers in 2008-09 after inking their names on the first day of the NCAA early signing period.
The new players include Pauline Ferrall, a 6-2 post from Carmel (Calif.) High School, Breauna Russell, a 5-6 guard from Washington H.S. in Phoenix, Ariz., Brianne Ryan, a 6-0 guard from Lynden Christian High School in Lynden, Wash., and Meaghan White, a 6-2 forward from Jesuit High School in Portland, Ore.
"Just looking at the credentials of this class is very exciting," Schuller said. "We have added young ladies who are outstanding individuals, exceptional basketball players and winners. I am very pleased with the recruiting efforts of (associate head coach and recruiting coordinator) Tom Webb and our entire staff and team.
"We have assembled a class that will fit in well with our team and has the ability to help take us to the next level. I love the enthusiasm of this group and know they are great additions to our Eastern Washington women's basketball family."
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 sixth consecutive season the Eagles had ranked 10th or higher in the rankings. That span included a No. 1 ranking in 2003-04.
Eagles Picked Seventh
Eastern Washington was picked seventh in both the preseason coaches poll and in the preseason media poll. The polls were nearly identical from the top down:
2) Idaho State
3) Montana State
4) Weber State (coaches), Northern Arizona (media)
5) Northern Arizona (coaches), Weber State (media)
6) Portland State
7) Eastern Washington
8) Sacramento State
9) Northern Colorado
54s are Wild
With Nov. 7's exhibition game between Eastern Washington and Central Washington wrapping down, the score was tied 54-54 with 54 seconds left. Then Eastern's #54 player Nicole Scott nailed the first-three point shot she had ever made in an Eagle uniform to give the Eagles a 57-54 lead with 35 seconds left that they would not relinquish.