Ohio Valley tournament still in reach for Panthers

Mark Shanahan, Women's Basketball Reporter

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The Eastern women’s basketball team is currently third to last in the Ohio Valley Conference standings, but a victory over Tennessee Tech last weekend means it still has a chance to make the conference tournament in early March.

The Panthers are 8-15 overall with a record of 4-7 in OVC play and they have five games remaining on their schedule.

Right now there are five teams, including the Panthers, with an identical 4-7 record. Eight teams make it into the conference tournament and the current No. 8 seed is Tennessee State who defeated the Panthers earlier this season.

The conference leader is Belmont who is the only team that has yet to lose a conference matchup so far this season. They are on a 13-game winning streak and have a record of 19-5 and 11-0 in OVC play.

The rest of the conference has not been able to get much separation for each other at this point. In second place is Morehead State with a 8-3 record in conference and Austin Peay, Southern Illinois Edwardsville and Tennessee Tech follow them with records of 6-5. The middle of the pack is Eastern Kentucky (5-5) and Murray State (4-6).

Tennessee State (4-7), Southeast Missouri (4-7), Eastern (4-7). Tennessee-Martin (4-7) and Jacksonville State (3-8) round out the rest of the conference. Eastern, like the other 4-7 teams, controls its own destiny.

Eastern gets Tennessee-Martin and Southeast Missouri this week, two 4-7 teams that the Panthers have beaten this season already.

Murray State, Austin Peay and Southern Illinois Edwardsville are the final three teams that the Panthers will face. Southern Illinois Edwardsville, Murray State and Austin Peay have defeated Eastern earlier this season.

Belmont has been very dominate this season and that shows with them being at the top of 10 statistical categories in the conference. Belmont has had no trouble on offense this season leading the conference in scoring offense, scoring margin, field goal percentage, 3-point field goal percentage and rebounding offense and margin. Darby Maggard has helped Belmont from the 3-point line this season as she is leading the conference in both 3-point field goal percentage and 3-point field goals made.

The leading scorer in the conference is Ke’Shunan James from Murray State. She averages 19.5 points per game. Senior Erica Brown is leading the league in rebounding for the Panthers with 8.1 rebounds per game. Junior Grace Lennox is the conference leader for minutes played with 38.1 minutes per game.

The Panthers face a tough task with three of their final five games coming on the road. Eastern is 3-9 on the road this season and 5-6 at home. They travel to Tennessee-Martin this Wednesday.

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