Women’s basketball team wins second straight

Mark Shanahan, Staff Reporter

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Eastern used a strong second half of shooting to beat Austin Peay 64-56 for its second straight win.

The Panthers shot 52 percent from the field in the second half of Wednesday night’s game. They were also helped out by their defense, as Austin Peay shot just 25 percent in the second half.

With the win, Eastern improves to 3-21 on the season and 2-10 in the OVC. Austin Peay falls to 7-18 overall and 5-7 in conference play.

Redshirt senior Shakita Cox was the leading scorer for Eastern with 16 points in 30 minutes of playing time. She also had five rebounds, an assist and a steal in the game. Cox said it feels like the team that won the first game of the season.

“That’s a team that we had the first game and we just need to keep that up,” she said. “It’s a way different atmosphere, so much energy. I think it’s because we took off at first with the first point of the game.”

Junior Phylicia Johnson opened up the scoring for the Panthers with a made layup while drawing the foul and making the free-throw. Eastern led 16-13 after the first quarter.

The teams battled in the second quarter and the score was tied at 28 going into the half. It looked as if Austin Peay was going to take the lead into halftime before sophomore Jalisha Smith drew a foul at the buzzer and made both free throws to tie it.

Cox said that playing them earlier in the season helped them this time around, especially for the younger players on the team.

“I think we just adjusted better to how they play and I think it’s better for the younger ones being have played them already, we kind of know what we need to do now so I think that’s going to help us in the next couple of games,” she said.

Eastern found themselves down 35-30 early in the third quarter until senior Alece Shumpert hit back-to-back three pointers.

Head coach Debbie Black said those two shots were game changing.

“I don’t think people understand how the smallest things can make the biggest difference,” she said. “Those six points were the turning point of our game.”

Eastern went on a 7-0 run after Austin Peay tied it up again. Johnson had two baskets following a three-pointer from freshman Halle Stull to fuel the run. Johnson finished the game with 15 points.

The Panthers led 47-41 going into the fourth quarter. Sophomore Grace Lennox had a pair of baskets to start the fourth quarter and the lead was up to ten with eight minutes to play.

Austin Peay was able to fight back as they cut the lead to just three points with a little over four minutes remaining. The two teams exchanged free throw and then Eastern got a huge three-pointer from Cox to beat the shot clock with 2:52 to play.

She scored the final for points in the game to seal the victory. Black credited her defense in a game against a team that beat them by 35 points earlier in the season.

“Our defense was stellar,” she said. “We doubled down. We were all over the place. We made them take tough shots. We just stuck to the game plan and stayed with it.”

The Panthers will finish up its three-game home stand against Murray State next Wednesday.

 

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