The Daily Eastern News

Belmont too much for Eastern in 86-58 blowout

Freshman+guard+Karle+Pace+jumps+into+the+lane+before+going+up+for+a+layup+in+the+Panthers%E2%80%99+86-58+loss+to+Belmont+Saturday+in+Lantz+Arena.+Pace+had+13+points+in+the+game.
Freshman guard Karle Pace jumps into the lane before going up for a layup in the Panthers’ 86-58 loss to Belmont Saturday in Lantz Arena. Pace had 13 points in the game.

Freshman guard Karle Pace jumps into the lane before going up for a layup in the Panthers’ 86-58 loss to Belmont Saturday in Lantz Arena. Pace had 13 points in the game.

Sean Hastings | The Daily Eastern News

Sean Hastings | The Daily Eastern News

Freshman guard Karle Pace jumps into the lane before going up for a layup in the Panthers’ 86-58 loss to Belmont Saturday in Lantz Arena. Pace had 13 points in the game.

JJ Bullock, Assistant Sports Editor

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Coming out of the gates, the Eastern women’s basketball team played as good of a quarter of basketball a team can expect to play against Belmont, but a team that has won 30 straight conference games will only remain idle for so long before kicking into gear.

Eastern took an early 11-9 lead against Belmont, but the Bruins senior center Sally McCabe showed why she was chosen as the preseason player of the year and scored 16 of her game-high 20 points in the first half and before long, the 11-9 lead became a 43-23 halftime deficit which resulted in the 86-58 final score.

Panther freshman Taylor Steele, who led Eastern with 13 points, said the Panthers definitely played with their highest energy in the first quarter, but late in the first quarter the energy dropped and Belmont “took advantage” of it.

In the second quarter, Belmont outscored Eastern 21-10 and flipped the game on its head, taking total control of the contest.

“(In the second quarter) I think they got us running, and then we were taking quick shots, and that’s not our game. We are more of a make a couple passes and take a wide-open look,” Steele said.

Eastern recovered on the offensive side of the ball in the third quarter scoring 20 points, but were still unable to get enough stops on defense to carve into the Bruins’ lead.

“I thought we came out with good energy in the third quarter,” coach Matt Bollant said. “We talked about trying to cut the lead down and I thought we scored enough points, we scored 20 to cut it down some, but we just didn’t get enough stops. But credit Belmont for making shots.”

Although, by the time the fourth quarter rolled around, the game was basically out of reach for Eastern, and Bollant was still disappointed in how his team finished the game.

With a 77-55 lead with two minutes to play, Belmont made four-three pointers on an Eastern defense that fell asleep as the clock wound down.

“I wanted them to play defense and play with pride, and that’s what I said to them in the end. ‘You talk like you care, but you gave up four three-pointers in the last two minutes where there wasn’t a ton of effort and talking,” Bollant said.

The Bruins displayed the full depth of their roster against the Panthers, as while Eastern held Belmont’s best player, senior point guard Darby Maggard, to 4-of-15 shooting, it did not matter, as other players stepped in and played well.

Five Bruins finished in double-digit scoring, including Maggard, who, despite her poor shooting performance, had 12 points and 12 assists.

The win for Belmont gives it a 31st consecutive conference win, moving them to 6-0 on the season.

For Eastern, the loss drops them to 1-5 in the OVC.

The Panthers’ next game is Thursday against Tennessee-Martin at Lantz Arena.

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

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Belmont too much for Eastern in 86-58 blowout