Nicole Scott was looking for a good college experience after she finished high school in Carson City, Nev., so she signed at Eastern Washington. She assumed basketball would take care of itself since the Eagles had appeared in seven straight Big Sky Conference tournaments.
It didn’t quite work out that way for the 6-foot-2 senior forward, but she’s not complaining.
School has been a perfect fit for the exercise science major.
“Even though there’s not that much to do in Cheney, entertainment-wise, there’s always something going on,” she said. “It’s a lot like Carson. I like that better than being on a huge campus.”
Making the transition easier was her parents’ decision to move to Cheney after she signed.
“I’m not sure if they would have moved anywhere I went, but since Washington’s not that far they just wanted to watch me play,” she said. “It’s nice to have them at my games. I can go visit any time (but), I still have my own space.”
And finally the basketball team is in a good place – atop the Big Sky standings.
When Scott was a freshman and junior, EWU had 10 wins. It was only four as a sophomore. However, the Eagles (15-9, 8-3 Big Sky) can earn a spot in the six-team playoffs when they play Northern Colorado in their Pink Zone game Friday and Northern Arizona on Saturday.
“It’s pretty rewarding that we are most likely to make it,” Scott said. “Being able to be the No. 1 seed would be icing on the cake.”
If the Eagles remain on top through the final five games, they would host the tournament for the first time.
“In close games (before), we didn’t know how to pull out the win,” she said. “That’s a big difference between then and now. Most of the games we’ve won have been 10 points or less. We’ve found a way to win.
“I think we’re playing well as a team. That’s a huge part.”
Without the losses, Scott might not appreciate the wins and what she has helped build.
“It’s been a good experience,” she said of her four years in Cheney. “I think going through three years of not winning you learn a lot, not just with basketball. You learn to stick together as a team.
“Even though it’s my last year, I think the things we’ve been able to accomplish this year will carry over in the years to come.”
Katie Baker was never injured during her stellar career at Lake City and always thought that would be the worst day of her life if she was.
Now, almost four weeks after surgery to repair an ACL, the Montana freshman has a different perspective.
“It’s a little bump on the way, but I’m going to get through it and come back stronger,” she said. “It was the best of the worst situation. It was a clean tear, no damage to the MCL or meniscus.”
Baker was just finding her groove (team-high 11.5 ppg, 6.9 rpg) when she was hurt in a game at EWU, where she had reached her second straight double-double. She got through the initial disappointment and is already looking ahead.
“I’m shooting to be 100 percent by August,” said Baker, who recently discarded her crutches. “I have a lot of time, practice doesn’t start until October, so that is also a blessing.”
Heidi Heintz (Central Valley) had 21 points, including a three-point play with 16 seconds, left to lift UC Davis to a 74-71 over UC Irvine on Saturday. … Jenna Galloway (Ferris) has started 20 of 24 games for Northern Arizona and is averaging 4.8 points and 4.6 rebounds, tied for second on the Lumberjacks. … Tonya Schnibbe (University) had her streak of 19 straight games with four assists end on Saturday when she had three at Northern Colorado, but she scored 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting in the 75-68 loss. Schnibbe (6.6) and Claire Faucher of Portland State (6.7) are in the top 10 nationally in assists but well behind leader Courtney Vandersloot of Gonzaga (9.3). … Eastern Washington senior Jessica Huntington is two assists shy of 400 for her career and is 35th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.85. EWU junior Kyla Evans is the Big Sky’s active leader in 3-pointers with 164. … Eastern’s RPI of 166 is best in the Big Sky. … Jayne Appel, who had 25 points and 14 rebounds as Stanford ran its record to 50-0 against Washington State on Sunday, moved into second place on the Pac-10 all-time rebounding list with 1,180. The 6-4 senior should pass former USC great Lisa Leslie (1,214) before the end of the season. She was also named Player of the Week for the eighth time, one short of the Pac-10 record set by former teammate Candice Wiggins. Appel also has 1,957 career points. … In the Pac-10, 34 of 65 games have been decided by 10 points or less, considering just one of 13-0 Stanford’s conference games has been decided by less than 10. … With Saturday’s win over EWU, Montana’s Robin Selvig became No. 9 in women’s basketball history in wins (748), passing former North Carolina coach Kay Yow. … Idaho’s Rachele Kloke has eight straight double-figure scoring games and 19 for the season. … Idaho’s win over Hawaii was the third in four games under Jon Newlee after going 0-8 prior to his arrival last season.