It was only fitting that Carrie Ojeda would have the best game of her career on a day that was dedicated to her and her senior teammates, Jordan Schoening and Courtney Nolen.
Behind Ojeda’s career-high 27 points, 12 rebounds and career-high five steals, the Eastern Washington University women’s basketball team picked up a 70-53 win over the Wildcats of Weber State on Saturday (March 9) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.
Eastern finishes the 2012-13 regular-season at 18-11 overall, and for the second-straight year, takes third in the Big Sky Conference race with a 14-6 league record.
The Eags have earned the No. 3-seed in the Big Sky Conference tournament and will face No. 6-seed Montana State in the quarterfinals on Wednesday, March 13 at 4:30 p.m. PST/5:30 p.m. MST at Dahlberg Arena in Missoula, Mont.
“We knew this was going to be a tough one, coming off such a high note on Thursday [in OT win over Idaho State] and looking forward to the conference tournament,” said EWU head coach Wendy Schuller. “I was concerned about us not showing up. I knew that Weber State was going to fight and do whatever they could to get their first win of the year. But I thought our players did a good job. They came to play and were aggressive. It is great when your seniors can go out with a win on their last game.”
Eastern Washington has now celebrated back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in more than two decades at EWU. Eastern’s senior class of Ojeda, Schoening and Nolen, who were all honored before Saturday’s game, has won a total of 65 games in their four years with the program.
It was a wire-to-wire win for EWU in its 2012-13 home finale, as the Eagles scored the first bucket of the game and never trailed, leading by as many 20 points late in the second half.
Eastern had four different players score at least five points in the first period, as the Eags shot 46 percent from the field and 43 percent from beyond the arc. But Weber State’s freshman guard Desiree Ramos had 14 first-half points to keep the Wildcats within striking distance. At the half, EWU had a 35-28 lead.
But the Eagles hit three of their first four shots of the second period to quickly take double-digit lead at 39-30. Ojeda scored 19 of her career-high 27 points in the second half to keep Eastern with a comfortable advantage.
Ojeda made a career-high 11 free throws on a career-high 15 attempts, while going 8-of-15 from the floor, which did include two uncharacteristic 3-point attempts.
“Carrie did a great job of getting to the line and being aggressive,” said Schuller. “She did things well from our scout. She was looking to rebound and to score. Besides the fact that she had 27 points, she also had 12 rebounds and nine of them were in the second half when we were trying to extend the lead and pull away.”
Eastern ended up shooting 40 percent for the game, and had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.1. Sophomore Kylie Huerta was a big part of that statistic, as she had a career-high 11 dimes with just three turnovers in 38 minutes on the floor.
“Kyle was awesome controlling the ball and the game,” complimented Schuller. “I thought she did a great job in the open floor making things happen and getting people looks. She was really great.”
Sophomore Lexie Nelson finished with 18 points, four rebounds and three steals, while sophomore Melissa Williams contributed six points and seven boards.
Schoening started Saturday’s game and played a season-high 15 minutes. She knocked down one 3-pointer to bring her career point total to 159.
“It was awesome to see Jordan get a three,” said Schuller. “She has had a tough year because she has an injury that limits how much she can practice and play. But she works as hard as any player I’ve ever had, and she is a popular teammate because she is just a good friend to everybody.”
EWU will enter the 2013 Big Sky Conference Championship on three-game winning streak with wins over North Dakota and Idaho State in its previous two outings. Eastern has now advanced the tournament in nine of Schuller’s 12 years at the helm. The Eagles have made it through to the semifinals five times, but have never played for the championship.