Women’s basketball hopes to take advantage of fresh start

Mark Shanahan, Assistant Sports Editor

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The Eastern women’s basketball game will open up the basketball doubleheader at Lantz arena with its first game of the season against Millikin University.

The women are looking to avenge a season where they finished 3-25 and suffered a 22-game losing streak. Eastern went 2-14 against in Ohio Valley Conference play and missed the conference tournament for the first time since the 2006-07 season.

For the second year in a row, Eastern returns a young team featuring just one senior in Erica Brown. Brown was the team leader in points and rebounds averaging 10.1 point a game and seven rebounds per game. She also ranked fourth in the OVC with 43 blocks last season. Junior Grace Lennox is going to be another key contributor for Eastern. Lennox ran the offense as the point guard and led the team by a wide margin in minutes played last season.

The Panthers also return junior Jalisha Smith who came on late in the season starting the final eight games of the season. Over that eight-game stretch, Smith averaged 7.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Eastern coach Debbie Black is heading into her fourth year as the Panthers coach.

The Panthers return four sophomores in Halle Stull, Brittin Boyer, Carmen Tellez and Karina Chandra who look to have larger roles this season. Stull played in all 28 games last year as a freshman and started the first 20. She averaged 7.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game and had nine games where she scored double-digits. Eastern also added four freshmen to fill in for the five players lost from last season.

This is the first ever matchup between Millikin and Eastern. Millikin comes from the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin and finished 9-16 overall last season. Millikin comes into the season without its top four scorers of the season. Devin Curry, Rachael Weber and Yanni Saddler return with the most experience on the team. Millikin is coached by Lori Kerans who will be started her 31st season at the head of the program.

Weber started all 25 games last season for Millikin and led the team in assists with 53. She averaged 3.3 points and 2.6 rebounds per game while adding 24 steals. Curry started in 12 games, but saw action in all 25 games. She is the leading scorer of players who returned this year with 6 points per game last season.

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