Panthers look to end losing streak

Mark Shanahan, Staff Reporter

The Eastern women’s basketball will finish up its three-game home stand Wednesday night against conference opponent UT Martin.

The Panthers come into the game riding a 17 game losing streak that dates all the way back to the second game of the season back in November. Their record is at 1-17, 0-6 in Ohio Valley Conference play. UT Martin is currently on a three-game winning streak as they beat Jacksonville State on the road last weekend.

UT Martin is above .500 on the season with an overall record of 10-7 and 3-1 in the OVC play. Away games have not been too kind to them, however, as six of their seven losses have come on the road. UT Martin freshman Daiji Ruffin is a player to watch for, as she is coming off of a strong performance against Jacksonville State. In that game she had a team high six rebounds, five assists and four steals.

Ruffin has earned freshman of the week honors three times this season; she is up at the top of every statistical category for her team. Another player to watch is Haley Howard, who averages 12.8 points per game and 5.2 rebounds, an area where Eastern has struggled this season.

Some players to watch for Eastern are freshman Halle Stull and sophomore Grace Lennox. Stull is coming off of a career high against Morehead State where she scored 18 points. She was 4-for-8 from the three-point line, while having three assists and blocks in the game. Lennox had nine points in the last game, but continued to hand out assists like she has all season with 10 against Morehead State.

Lennox said she wants to carry some positive things over from last game.

“Our patience on offense, by not taking quick shots unless it’s an obvious and easy bucket like an open layup,” she said.

The series history against UT Martin is not in Eastern’s favor as they trail in the series 17-24. The two teams met twice last year in the regular season and once in the conference tournament. Eastern lost all three of the head-to-head matchups. The most notable game was the conference tournament where Eastern lost big 35-68. When they played UT Martin at home last season, however, it came down to the wire, as the Panthers lost 60-63.

Lennox talked about what the team has been working on in practice this week since UT Martin runs a 1-3-1 full court press and a 1-3-1 half court zone.

“We have been working on breaking their defense to get open looks or pulling it back out to run our offenses,” she said. “We have also been working on defending their screens and boxing out and rebounding to limit their second chance opportunities.”

Eastern will look to do these things well Wednesday at 6 p.m. in Lantz Arena.


Mark Shanahan can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]