Kirscher carves out scoring role


Bailey Monteith

Freshman guard Grace Kirscher handles the ball against Gonzaga on Nov. 11. Since the Gonzaga game Kirscher’s role has steadily increased and she is now second on the team in scoring with 9.9 points per game.

By Drew Lawson, Reporter

In Grace Kirscher’s early career, she played post. Around middle school, when other players began to catch up to her in size, she made the transition to guard.

“I was so big, but then everybody else got big too,” the now 6-foot freshman said.

Basketball has long been in Kirscher’s blood. Her sister, Maggie, played two years at North Idaho College, and her father used to coach.

“I basically grew up around it, I’ve always just played,” Kirscher said.

Kirscher attended high school at Sandpoint High, where her team finished third in state twice during her career. Kirscher called this one of the proudest accomplishments of her career thus far. In high school, Kirscher was nominated for Female Basketball Player of the Year and Female Athlete of the Year three times from 2016-2018 by the North Idaho Hall of Fame.

After high school, Kirscher had a decision on where to play collegiately. EWU emerged as the clear destination.

“I was considering Cal Poly, University of Portland and Idaho State,” Kirscher said. “EWU was the obvious choice.”

Kirscher said that the coaching staff, led by head coach Wendy Schuller, and the academic potential led her to EWU. Kirscher is majoring in elementary education.

“I just love the coaches,” Kirscher said. “(Assistant coach) Bryce (Currie), Wendy (Schuller), and some other coaches that left. It’s like a family. I’m close to my family as well, and Eastern’s really good with elementary education.”

Kirscher’s first two collegiate games were rather unassuming, as she scored one point in a season opening loss to Gonzaga and seven points in a win over Eastern Oregon University. However, she burst onto the scene in the first road contest of the year, scoring a team-high 21 points at Brigham Young University. Kirscher shot 8-of-13 from the field in that game and connected on 3-of-6 three pointers. Kirscher said that scoring is one of her main roles on the team.

“I try to contribute as much as I can there,” Kirscher said. “Defensively, I’m learning a lot, so I’m trying to up that a little bit.”

After EWU’s loss to Northern Colorado on Jan. 7, Kirscher was one of the players that Schuller commended.

“It was a great effort defensively,” Schuller said. “Bottom line, that’s what we’re capable of.”

EWU has played 13 games thus far this season, and Kirscher has seen action in all of them. She’s second on the team in scoring behind senior Kapri Morrow, averaging 9.5 points per game. She’s also second in steals with 13 total, and averages the most minutes on the team aside from senior forward Alissa Sealby.

Kirscher has led the team in scoring in two high-profile games this season; the aforementioned 21 point game against BYU, and a 17 point effort against No. 10 Oregon State on Dec. 14. Against Cal Poly on Nov. 28, she had a career-high three steals. She also averages just 1.5 turnovers per game, the fewest of the six Eagle players that play at least 15 minutes per game.

Kirscher has started six of EWU’s 13 games this season, which was something she hoped to accomplish entering college.

“My goal was to start,” Kirscher said. “That was a really big (goal) for me. It took me a while, just because everything is so new, but eventually I got there.”

As Kirscher looks forward to the end of this year and her three remaining years of eligibility, she has set lofty goals for herself and her team.

Following the loss to UNC, Kirscher said that she expects the Eagles to make the NCAA Tournament during her career at EWU. She noted that they nearly beat the Big Sky Conference leaders with seven freshmen and a transfer.

Kirscher detailed how she expects to make a contribution toward that tournament goal.

“Defensively, offensively, being engaged,” Kirscher said of her personal expectations. “I (want) to feel more in control.”

The EWU women’s team is currently turning around a slow start to the 2018-19 season. The Eagles have started just 3-11 overall and 2-3 in conference play, but picked up a road win over Montana on Jan. 10.

EWU will look to continue that momentum on Jan. 19 at Montana State.  The next home game is an 11 a.m. matinee on Jan. 24 versus Portland State