Eastern to have telling game on road


Bryan Bund

Eastern forward Grace McRae protects the ball from a Northern Illinois defender in the Panther 93-64 loss to the Huskies Nov. 10. McRae is averaging 6.6 points per game this season for Eastern.

JJ Bullock, Assistant Sports Editor

Something has to give for the Eastern women’s basketball team.

The team is currently riding a four-game losing streak where they seem to be a different team, not only game-by-game, but quarter-by-quarter.

At times, the Panthers look like a team that can compete with anyone, for example in the second quarter of their game against Evansville where they held the Aces to just five points and scored 17 of their own.

However, in other small sample sizes, Eastern looks like a team completely lost. This is what coach Matt Bollant felt sank the Panthers in their last game. A first quarter where they shot just 18 percent against Bradley displayed yet another point in time where the team could not find its way on the court.

Friday the Panthers will play Fort Wayne in a game where they will hope to put a product on the court that is consistent for four quarters.

“I think one of the things we are trying to get is a little more consistency on offense,” Bollant said. “The other game against Bradley we took so many quick shots in that first quarter and we weren’t making them. So, let’s stop being impatient and let’s really work to get a good shot instead of just an average shot.”

In an effort to manufacture more consistency on offense, Bollant plans on using sophomore Danielle Berry more at point guard with plans of getting the ball to senior point guard Grace Lennox quicker and with hopefully more open scoring opportunities.

“Right now, there is a lot of possessions where when she (Lennox) passes it, she never touches it again and we are seeing if we can get the ball back in her hands a little better in possession before we take shots,” Bollant said.

Junior guard Carmen Tellez will be coming out of the starting lineup for the Panthers game against Fort Wayne on Friday. She scored three points on 1-of-4 starting in her last game against Bradley.

Senior forward Jalisha Smith will be stepping in for Tellez. Bollant is hoping that Smith and her team-leading 5.9 rebounds per game will bring more physicality and help the team get off to better starts in games.

Fort Wayne has had struggles of its own this season, large in part because of both an offense and defense that rank last in the Summit League.

On offense, Fort Wayne averages a league worst 57.3 points per game and shoot 38.6 percent from the field and 31 percent from three-point range.

Four of Fort Wayne’s typical staring five are averaging over nine points per game this season.

What Fort Wayne lacks in offensive output, it does not exactly make up for in defensive prowess.

The Mastadons rank last in the Summit League in opponent field goal percentage (44.1 percent) and points per game (68.9).

Eastern is not focusing on its opponents struggles, rather the Panthers have spent the week trying to alleviate the pressure of thinking about winning all the time and getting wrapped up in the end result of the game.

“At the start of the Bradley game, you know we practiced so good, and all of the sudden at the start of the game we looked like a completely different team. So, we are talking about just the process and playing hard and controlling what we can control,” Bollant said. “We can’t control our opponents but let’s control what we can control.”

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