Finishing in the top 20 in the nation among NCAA Division I women’s basketball scorers is no small accomplishment.
That’s why it came as no surprise that Eastern Washington’s power forward Brianne Ryan is the Big Sky Conference’s MVP, which was announced on Monday.
Ryan and Coeur d’Alene High graduate Katie Baker (Montana) were unanimous first-team selections, chosen by the coaches, while EWU point guard Chene Cooper made the second team.
Ryan, a senior from Lynden, Wash., made the first team for the second straight season and is only the second player in EWU history to earn Big Sky MVP honors. Julie Piper (2009-10) is the other.
Ryan averaged 19.3 points a game this season and scored 30 or more points in four games. She was also co-defensive player of the year in 2009-10.
“Brianne just has that ability to get the ball in the basket, and she does it a lot of different ways,” EWU coach Wendy Schuller said. “I do think Brianne might want to break off a little piece of that award and give it to (Chene Cooper) though. Those two have really clicked over the years, and were fortunate to play with one another.”
Cooper, a senior from Puyallup, Wash., finished first for the Eagles and sixth in the nation among Division I players in assists (6.8 per game).
The No. 3-seeded Eagles will take on No. 6 Sacramento State in the Big Sky tournament quarterfinals on Thursday in Pocatello.
After dropping their first five Western Athletic Conference contests this season, Idaho battled its way to fourth in the final standings.
Sophomore Alyssa Charlston and freshman Krissy Karr were a big part of that climb and were rewarded on Monday. Charlston was named to the all-WAC first team and Karr earned all-freshman team honors.
Charlston led the Vandals in scoring and rebounding and ranked fourth in the WAC with 15.5 points per game and second in the conference with 10.1 rebounds a game. She is the first Idaho player to earn first-team honors since the Vandals joined the WAC in the 2005-06 season.
Karr, a true freshman point guard, started 24 games this season and ranked third in the WAC with 4.36 assists a game in conference play.
No. 4 seed Idaho will face fifth-seeded San Jose State on Wednesday night in a WAC tournament quarterfinal matchup in Las Vegas.