Women’s basketball team hosting final non-conference home game

Mark Shanahan, Assistant Sports Editor

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The Eastern women’s basketball team will be home for a short time to host the Cleveland State Vikings before the Panthers go back on the road for three more games.

Both teams head into Wednesday’s afternoon matchup a game under .500.

Cleveland State is currently 3-4 trying to win back-to-back games for the first time this season, and Eastern is 4-5 looking to snap a three-game losing streak.

The teams have not met since 1994, but Cleveland State leads the all-time series record 3-1.

The Panthers played last Saturday against Valparaiso and lost 73-68 despite a 27-point fourth quarter that was close to completing the comeback.

The Vikings played in the Navy Classic last time out and went 1-1 facing Richmond and Navy.

They fell to Navy 88-63, but picked up the 69-65 victory over Richmond.

The duo of Ashanti Abshaw and Khayla Livingston powered the Vikings’ offense in the Navy Classic.

Abshaw averaged 25 points per game, while Livingston averaged 14. Livingston was also led the team in rebounds with 5.5 per game on the weekend.

Eastern coach Debbie Black described the Vikings’ offense as fast paced.

“Their leading scorer is a guard — very, very talented,” Black said. “She had 30 points last game against Richmond. They want to push the ball, and their guards are their leading scorers.”

Against Richmond, Abshaw recorded the second 30-point performance of her career, and it was just the fourth 30-point performance from a player out of the Horizon League this year.

Abshaw was 11-for-19 from the field and 3-for-5 from behind the arc.

Black said the Panthers have been working on a few defensive sets heading into this game.

“They really just kind of keep you off balanced, so we’re just going to have to be solid defensively,” Black said.

Livingston comes into Wednesday afternoon ranked third in the Horizon League in assists with 5 per game.

She is just 34 more away from reaching 200 assists in her career.

Alexis Eckles is just four blocks shy of making the Cleveland State top-10 career list and is at 53 career blocks right now.

The Panthers’ offense is led by junior Grace Lennox, freshman Allison Van Dyke, senior Erica Brown and junior Jalisha Smith, who each are averaging double digits.

Lennox leads the team in points (12.2), steals (14), assists (36) and minutes per game (35).

Brown and Smith have handled rebounds for the most part, with Brown averaging a team high 7.1 rebounds per game and Smith averaging 6.9.

The game is set to begin at 3 p.m. in Lantz Arena.

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