Women’s basketball team to host 4-3 Western Illinois

Elias Albert, Staff Reporter

The Eastern women’s basketball team will host Western at 6 p.m. in its third home game since Nov. 17.

The Panthers are currently 1-5 and on a five-game losing streak, four of which came on the road.

In their lone home loss, they lost in overtime to Loyola-Chicago.

Coach Debbie Black said she prefers it when her team plays at home as do her players.

“I think we play better when we’re at home,” Black said. “It might be that we just like playing in front of our home crowd and we like it better than traveling.”

In their two home games, Eastern averaged 73 points offensively compared to the 50 points they have averaged in their four road contests.

They also averaged over 40 rebounds per game while at home, which is more than the 34.8 rebounds per game that stands as their season average.

Throughout the season so far, certain areas of Eastern’s game have been particularly strong, especially when compared to the rest of the OVC.

Eastern has only allowed 27.8 percent of its opponent’s three-point attempts to be made, which ranks them at second in the conference.

They are also fourth in the conference with eight steals per game, and their even turnover margin ranks them at sixth.

Black said despite results that have not gone the way she would like them to, she is still happy with the way her players have performed.

She said junior forward Erica Brown is a player that she had liked to have on the floor as much as she can.

“She (Brown) can make a lot of good plays when she’s out there,” Black said. “She has had some fouling issues, so it sometimes limits her minutes late in games.”

Brown’s efforts so far this season have resulted in 11.7 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, both of which lead the team. Her scoring and rebounding numbers also rank her at 20th and eighth in the OVC, in each respective category.

Black also said she is impressed by the work of freshman forward Halle Stull, who is third on the team in scoring with 7.7 points per game.

“She’s (Stull) not afraid to go out there and play,” Black said. “She’s been asked to play a lot of minutes and she’s reacted well to that. She can only continue to get better.”

In Eastern’s last game at Saint Louis, sophomore guard Grace Lennox was held scoreless for the first time this season.

Black said this was a result of teams being more prepared for her group’s strengths.

“They’re making it a priority to guard Grace (Lennox),” Black said. “She ends up with our opponent’s best defender. She knows that she needs to be more aggressive now.”

Eastern’s upcoming opponent, Western, is fresh off a 75-59 win over Bethune Cookman and is currently averaging 84.4 points per game.

Western has hit 35 percent of its three pointers and is averaging 12 made threes per game.

Black said her team needs to defend the three well and avoid allowing second chances.

“We have to run and rebound to the best of our ability,” Black said. “We’ve done a good job at taking care of the ball and we need to continue that if we hope to win.”

Eastern and Western will get their matchup underway tonight at 6 p.m. from Lantz Arena.


Elias Albert can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]