Postseason chances come to an end in Panthers’ loss
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The Eastern women’s basketball team was officially eliminated from the Ohio Valley Conference postseason tournament after a 66-57 loss at home to the Murray State Racers.
It was a bittersweet end to a great career for senior Erica Brown who recorded a double-double with 23 points and 14 rebounds in her final game at Lantz Arena. Junior Grace Lennox had a big night for Eastern also with 18 points and eight rebounds. Lennox played all 40 minutes and Brown played 39. Eastern had trouble finding any offense elsewhere with sophomore Carmen Tellez the next highest scorer at six points.
Graduate assistant student manager Ann Duncan and student assistant coach along with Brown were honored before the game on senior night.
Murray State had four players reach double figures with Bria Bethea leading the way with a team-high 22 points along with 10 rebounds. Kyra Gulledge also had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. LeAsia Wright had 14 points with a team-high four assists and Abria Gulledge finished with 10 points.
Eastern coach Debbie Black liked the effort, but the Panthers could not make the shots needed to win this game.
“The game before this, I was disgusted, we all know that,” Black said. “But this was effort, we gave effort, we had a chance to win this. Honestly, they did everything we asked them to do, but we did not make shots. I don’t think they did anything to stop us.”
Eastern fought and kept up with Murray State for the majority of the game. After the first quarter, Eastern trailed 19-16 after Lennox made one of two free throws. Eastern shot 44 percent in the first quarter and Murray State was shooting 33 percent from the field. Five points from the free-throw line for the Racer’s was the difference in the first quarter.
Lennox took over for the Panther’s offense in the second quarter scoring six points. Eastern outscored Murray State 13-11 in the second quarter, but Eastern trailed 30-29 going in the half. A 3-pointer from Jasmine Borders gave Murray State the lead with 15 seconds remaining in the second quarter. Lennox led all scorers with 11 points at the half and Brown added 10 points.
The third quarter was even for both teams as they each scored 15 points. Brown and Lennox each had six points in the third and freshman Zharia Lenoir added a 3-pointer. Bethea scored seven points in the quarter for Murray State and Wright had six. A layup at the end of the third quarter by Brown made it a one-point game heading into the final quarter.
Murray State pulled away in the fourth quarter and the Panther’s fouling at the end of the game made the victory look bigger than it really was. Brown was the main source of offense for the Panthers, with seven points in the fourth quarter.
Eastern could not make the open shots to get back in the game and Murray State improved to 15-11 on the season and 7-6 in the OVC. The Panther’s fall to 8-18 and 4-10 in the OVC.
Eastern did a good job shutting down one of the conference’s leading scorers in Ke’Shunan James who had five points and 13 rebounds. The Racers were able to find offense from other players however, which hurt the Panther’s. Eastern will be on the road for its final two games starting with Austin Peay on Saturday.
Mark Shanahan can be reached at 581-2812 or firstname.lastname@example.org