Final seconds sink Eastern in 60-57 loss


Sean Hastings

Freshman Karle Pace dribbles past Tennessee Tech’s Mackenzie Coleman in Eastern’s 60-57 loss Saturday in Lantz Arena. Pace finished with 18 points.

JJ Bullock, Assistant Sports Editor


It looked as if the Eastern women’s basketball team was going to break its five-game losing streak against Tennessee Tech on Saturday, but with 19 seconds left, an inbound pass ended up in the hands of the wrong team.

It appeared to be the makings of a marquee win for the Panthers, but it quickly turned into one of their toughest losses to swallow of the season.

Eastern led the Golden Eagles 57-56 with 19 seconds to play and the ball in possession of the Panthers. All Eastern had to do was inbound a pass and let the play clock run out or wait for a Tennessee Tech defender to foul and send a Panther to the free-throw line.

Eastern junior Carmen Tellez inbounded the ball for the Panthers and after the ref blew his whistle and sent the players vying for an open spot on the court, Tellez shot a pass right into the hands of Tennessee Tech’s Abby Buckner.

Buckner turned and passed it to her teammate Jordan Brock, who took the pass down the court on a fast break and made an easy layup, giving her team a 58-57 lead with 12 seconds to play. In a matter of seven seconds, Eastern went from a team preparing to take victory formation, to a squad trying to figure out what had just happened.

Eastern head coach Matt Bollant said he takes responsibility for the failed final play by Eastern.

“We ran a play to try to score, thinking it might be there. It wasn’t there, but we threw the pass anyway,” he said. “Looking back, I wish we had just run something to try to get it in, but we didn’t.”

Eastern sophomore guard Danielle Berry said the final play developed so quickly, it seemed as if the Panthers could not stop it.

“It seemed like we were doing what we should have been doing, and then a split-second happens and we lost,” Berry said.

Eastern got the ball back with 12 seconds to play and ran a possession that formulated into a tightly contested missed layup by freshman forward Grace McRae with four seconds to play.

The Golden Eagles got the ball back and made two free-throws, icing their 60-57 win at Lantz Arena.

Again, in this game, the fourth quarter was bad for the Panthers, as it has been in almost all of the team’s conference games this season.

They shot 30 percent in the quarter after shooting 53 percent in the third, and watched a game that they controlled for the better part of three quarters slip away.

“I think towards the end (Tennessee Tech) went on a run and they started getting really hyped about it and we didn’t respond the way we needed to,” Berry said of the final quarter. “We started to back off more when we needed to be more aggressive in that situation.”

Berry scored seven points for the Panthers. Eastern freshman Karle Pace led all scorers with 18 points in the game.

Four Tennesse Tech players scored in the double digits.

Overall, Bollant felt his team played well outside of the fourth quarter.

“I thought we played with a lot of heart and energy and the one thing we have struggled with a little bit is knowing how to play with the lead,” he said. “We had the lead late, we haven’t been in that situation and we got a little tight and we probably were not aggressive enough offensively in that fourth quarter. We waited a little long to look to score.”

Eastern’s next game is Wednesday against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville in Edwardsville.

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