Panthers look for third win out of four tries

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Kevin Hall

Jalisha Smith, a freshmen forward, attempts a lay-up with two defenders trailing in the women’s basketball game Saturday against Kansas City in Lantz Arena.

Bob Reynolds, Staff Reporter

The Eastern women’s basketball team will be looking for its second straight home victory on Friday as the Panthers host Nebraska-Omaha at Lantz Arena at 6 p.m.

Omaha is 3-3 on the season and has played five home games out of the six to start the season and Eastern coach Debbie Black said she expects the Mavericks to come flying out of the gate right at the Panthers.

“They are a team that plays in structure,” she said. “They are going to move the ball. They are going to drive to the hole. They are probably going to play a zone.  They are going to be a gritty team and bring a lot of aggressiveness and not give up.”

With the Mavericks most likely to play a zone defense, Black said running is the one way to beat the zone.

“We have to get some easy buckets,” she said. “You just have to get in the gaps and just go to the hole.”

The Mavericks are coming off a win over Peru State 68-54 on Monday, finishing off their four game home stand.

Sophomore guard Mikaela Shaw is averaging a double-double this season and leads the team in points and rebounds per game with 14.7 points per game and 11.5 rebounds. She has three double-double performances on the season thus far.

Omaha is averaging 40 percent shooting from the field this season and is averaging 42.8 rebounds a game, while holding opponents to 32.8 percent shooting.

The Panthers have been struggling to shoot the ball this season as they are shooting 37.3 percent from the floor.

With the Panthers having trouble scoring the last four days of practice Black was only working on offense with her team for the most part and said everything has gone according to plan.

“We are working on our execution mostly,” she said. “It does start with us to get the ball out of the net and run. If we can get some easy layups, which is the easiest way to loosen us up. A lot of it just becomes mental.”

With the Panthers trailing by double-digits in every game so far this season, freshman Grace Lennox likes the fight in her team.

“We just had a really disgusting first half against North Texas,” she said. “We shouldn’t have been down 12 in the first place.  However, we all pulled our heads in and just played hard like we can. We all had a lot of fun during that second half too, just by giving effort.”

Lennox has been one of the more consistent players on the Panther team this season with averaging five points, three assists and just about two steals per game.

Black said the freshman, including Lennox are starting to get it.

“I think (Lennox) needs to look at the basket a bit more,” she said. “I think Bh’rea is showing some signs to where she is going to be able to help us more. Kandance has played some minutes. It is all about earning your minutes. We are a work in progress.”

Bob Reynolds can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]