Column: Women’s basketball will rebound from tough season

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Column: Women’s basketball will rebound from tough season

Mark Shanahan

Mark Shanahan

Jason Howell

Mark Shanahan

Jason Howell

Jason Howell

Mark Shanahan

Mark Shanahan, Staff Reporter

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The women’s basketball team here at Eastern just wrapped up a disappointing season where they finished with a record of 3-25 and at the bottom of the Ohio Valley Conference.

This tough season that featured a 21 game losing streak might just be the fuel to the fire for the young team coached by Debbie Black who will be entering her fourth season next fall.

The Panthers will lose just two seniors and will return four of their starting five. Erica Brown and Grace Lennox will both be returning after starting all 28 games last season for Eastern. Brown was the team’s leading scorer averaging 10.1 points per game. She was also the leading rebounder averaging seven boards a game.

Lennox was the team’s leader in assists by a long shot with her 130 on the season. She was second on the team in steals with 36 this past season behind Shakita Cox who is graduating. This Panther team will miss Cox as she started every game for them last season.

Cox was the team’s second-leading scorer behind Brown averaging 9.6 points per game. She was a three-point specialist along with fellow senior Alece Shumpert. They were the team leaders in attempted and made three’s. Cox was 27 of 82 from beyond the arc and Shumpert was 30 of 103.

Shumpert was the only four-year player on the team and she appeared in 25 games while starting eight of them. The Panthers had five freshman that received playing time and that experience should help them moving forward. Halle Stull was a standout freshman for the team appearing in all 28 games and starting 20.

Stull was the team’s second-leading rebounder behind Brown with 5.2 per game. She averaged 7.8 points a game and had 34 blocks. Kayla Steward was another freshman that saw action in all games this season. She had 25 assists and five steals while averaging 2.9 points per game.

A main problem that this team had during the season was turnovers and not being able to out rebound teams. The Panthers averaged 17.4 turnovers per game and a lot of teams in the talented Ohio Valley Conference were able to take advantage of the takeaways. They were averaging 33.4 rebounds while opponents were averaging 41.9 against them.

The Panthers gained a little bit of life and showed promise with back-to-back wins after snapping the long losing streak. The defense is what led to the wins over OVC opponents Southeast Missouri and Austin Peay who both made the conference tournament.

The women are just one year removed from making the conference tournament, I’m confident that Black and company will be able to turn things around as the team starts to mature.

Despite that long losing streak, the Panthers never seemed to stop fighting and finished every game.

The three games that they did win this year, really showed what this team was capable of. Even when they beat Southeast Missouri, the last few minutes leading up to the win seemed to come natural to the Panthers.

The future can be bright for Eastern.

 

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