Eastern starts sluggish, loses 67-52


Karina Delgado

Sophomore Danielle Berry drives to the basket in the Panthers’ 67-52 loss to Bradley Tuesday in Lantz Arena. Berry had five points and five steals in the loss.

JJ Bullock, Assistant Sports Editor

Poor shooting early in the game had the Eastern women’s basketball team trying to dig itself out of an early hole that proved too deep to climb out of.

The Panthers shot 18 percent from the field in the first quarter in their 67-52 loss to Bradley Tuesday night at Lantz Arena, in a game where Eastern could simply not overcome its struggles to start the game.

“I was really disappointed in the start of the game,” Eastern coach Matt Bollant said. “We had five good days of practice where we were aggressive and fought and had good mentality and we didn’t start the game that way and somehow, someway we have to.”

Eastern got progressively better as the game unraveled, shooting 29 percent in the second quarter, 37 percent in the third and 24 percent in the fourth, but after Bradley opened the game on a 13-0 run and closed the first quarter ahead 20-7, there was not much Eastern could do.

Senior Grace Lennox had a game-high 19 points in the loss. Guard Anneke Schluter was one of two Bradley players that scored in double-digits, she had 18 points and Danielle Brewer added 13 points for the Braves.

Bradley controlled just about every aspect of the game in the first half. The Braves out-rebounded Eastern 36-14 in the first half, grabbing 17 offensive rebounds and collected 13 second-chance points as a result of it.

“We were so passive to start the game,” Bollant said. “We just didn’t hit anybody. We didn’t pursue the ball and it really doesn’t matter what you would do, if you don’t play the game with confidence and aggressiveness you’re not going to get a good result.”

Post scoring is typically the bread and butter of Bradley’s offense; however, the Braves came out of the gates firing three-pointers often and effectively, finishing the first quarter four-of-eight from beyond the arc.

Bradley tied its season high with eight made three-pointers against Eastern.

The three-point shooting barrage by Bradley came as a surprise to Eastern, as Bollant did not feel that Bradley was a great three-point shooting after scouting it.

“We did give them some rhythm shots, but give them credit for stepping up and making shots,” Bollant said. “In the first quarter, I don’t know if we were completely ready for them to step up and shoot the three-ball the way they did.”

Eastern re-wired itself somewhat in the second half. Returning to the court after halftime pressing Bradley on defense and forcing it into some missed shots and turnovers.

The Panthers ended up outscoring Bradley in the second half, something Bollant credited to a much better approach offensively.

However, despite this, the first quarter struggles haunted them all game.

The first quarter was a near mirror image of the Panthers blowout loss to Delaware and super-implosion quarters such as that one has been something hampering Eastern at various times in the season.

And in Bollant’s mind it all comes down to the team’s mentality.

“Our lack of belief is killing us,” Bollant said. “You don’t play with confidence if you don’t really believe in yourself and right now we don’t have many players that have stepped on the court and believed in themselves,”

The loss is Eastern’s fourth in a row and its record to 1-6 on the season.

The Panthers next game is Dec. 8 on the road against Fort Wayne.

JJ Bullock can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]