Bradley holds on late, beats Eastern 67-64


Karina Delgado

Eastern redshirt-senior guard Grace Lennox plays defense in the Panthers’ 72-63 win on Nov. 15 in Lantz Arena.

JJ Bullock, Sports Editor

The Eastern women’s basketball team had two chances late to pick up what would have been a signature win over an undefeated Bradley team on the road Wednesday night, but two poorly handled possessions by Eastern in the last 45 seconds of the game led to Eastern losing its second game of the season 67-64.

Down to points with 1:11 to play in the game Eastern got the ball back down by just two points, but instead of tying up the game or taking the lead, Eastern put together a bizarre possession that finished with sophomore forward Grace McRae taking an off-balance jumper as the shot clock expired.

Bradley got the ball back with 38 seconds to play and was able to run the clock down to 10 seconds before Eastern fouled and sent Bradley’s Jailynn Lawson to the line with her team leading 66-64. Lawson made just one free throw and Eastern got the ball back trailing by three.

Again, with the ball in their hands and a chance to tie the game, Eastern put together another poor possession. Senior guard Grace Lennox took the ball up the court for Eastern and maybe held the ball for a few seconds too long before being swarmed by two Bradley defenders. Lennox ended up turning the ball over, and Bradley laid on the ball until time expired.

Eastern knew it was going to learn a lot about itself on the road against the undefeated Braves, and what the team learned about itself in what would ultimately be a loss for Eastern, however, was that they are ready to compete at a higher level this season.

Bradley was able to keep the game just out of reach for the Panthers late, but still, the young Eastern team felt it was able to show it is ready to compete with higher-level opponents this season and also shake its woes on the road.

Already this season Eastern beat a team that it lost to last season, beating Fort Wayne 72-63 and almost put together the same narrative against Bradley, who beat Eastern 67-52 last year. Eastern has been talking since the beginning of the year about being an improved basketball team from the three-win squad it was last year, and with the win over Fort Wayne and the close loss to Bradley, it appears that hope may be nearing reality for Eastern.

Lennox had been struggling for Eastern on offense early this season, and prior to the Bradley game Bollant predicted that she would shake those struggles against the Braves, and Lennox seemed to do just that. Lennox put up 18 points on 8-of-14 shooting and added six rebounds and six steals, in a performance that had her once again looking like her pre-injury self.

Eastern missed Lennox’s veteran presence late in games time and time again last season, and Wednesday Lennox showed exactly why Eastern can rely on her late, scoring six points in the fourth quarter, while running the offense at the point late.

A trio of sophomores; Taylor Steele (13 points), Grace McRae (11 points, eight rebounds) and Karle Pace (10 points) trailed Lennox in production in another strong showing from Eastern’s second-year class of starters.

What Eastern got in value from its starters, it lacked in contributions from its bench which added just six total points, all coming from freshman Kira Arthofer.

Bradley can point to guard Gabi Haack for much of the credit in the win, she scored a game-high 23 points, 13 points more than any of her teammates.

The loss drops Eastern to 3-2 and elevates Bradley to 5-0. Eastern’s next game is Dec. 2 on the road against Valparaiso.

A full recap with an interview with head coach Matt Bollant can be found at

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