The Daily Eastern News

Steele, Pace combine for 37, Panthers snap losing streak

JJ Bullock, Assistant Sports Editor

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Eastern freshmen guard Karle Pace showed what her high school coach meant when she described Pace as having the “clutch gene” Thursday night when she scored 11 of her 18 total points, including six in overtime, to help the Eastern women’s basketball team snap a 12-game losing streak against Tennessee State.

Pace was one of four Panthers, all sophomores and younger, to score in double-digits as Eastern secured its first conference win of the season and first win since Nov. 18 in a 66-59 overtime win against Tennessee State at Lantz Arena.

With 2:20 to play in regulation Pace took the ball down the court on a fast break and finished the rim with a layup giving her team a 53-52 lead.

Tennessee State would tie the score at 55 before regulation ended sending the game into overtime.

In overtime it would be Pace again who all but sealed the win for the Panthers with 45 seconds to play when she made an open three-pointer from the top of the arc to give the Panthers a 64-59 lead that would hold the rest of the game.

At the time of the layup Pace made with 2:20 to play she says she was not even aware of the score, however, Pace was well aware of the score when she made her game-sealing three-pointer in overtime that helped deliver the team from its winless drought.

“We’re all just feeling so good right now and I feel like we are having fun again,” Pace said. “This is just so fun for us.”

Along with Pace, freshman guard Taylor Steele had a game-high 19 points and added six rebounds while sophomore guard Danielle Berry tallied a 12 point, 10 rebound double-double.

The play of Eastern’s young guards has been key as of late in the absence of senior guard Grace Lennox who will miss the entire season and junior guard Carmen Tellez who went 0-of-7 from the field in her first game after missing two games because of a sprained ankle.

“I thought those guys (Pace, Steele and Berry) played great,” Eastern coach Matt Bollant said. “I thought (Berry) with five offensive rebounds was a warrior and she had four steals.”

Bollant also gave a lot of credit to his forwards, Grace McRae, Jennifer Nehls and Jalisha Smith for their play and some key steals they came up with to turn the tide late in the game.

The Panthers wanted to improve on their play in the post and strides were taken in the Tennessee State match as Eastern outscored the Tigers 32-12 in the paint.

Bollant was happy to see his teams improvement scoring around the rim and noted that the team did not rely as heavily on the three-point shot as they have in past games.

“I feel like we are driving it with more mentality, we are getting off two feet a little bit more,”Bollant said. “We tried to post a little bit more, we didn’t get as much out of that as I felt we could have, but I thought that (Pace) and (Steele) and (Berry) just drove it with some mentality which was great.”

Both teams struggled with turnovers, combining for 63 total, with Eastern ultimately winning the battle 31-32.

Despite the large number of turnovers, Bollant says his team played better and harder than they did in their last game where they lost while only committing eight turnovers.

Eastern improved its record to 2-14 (1-4 OVC) on the season and will host first-place Belmont Saturday at 1 p.m.

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

 

 

 

 

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Steele, Pace combine for 37, Panthers snap losing streak