Eastern wins three games over winter break

JJ Bullock, Sports Editor

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The Eastern women’s basketball team won as many games in a 13 day stretch between Dec. 21 and Jan. 3 as they did all last season, rattling off three wins in a row against Indiana State, Eureka College and Tennessee-Martin.

Eastern sophomore guard Karle Pace led the team in scoring in both the Indiana State and the Eureka wins, scoring 18 and 14 points respectively. Both games were just more of what has become expected of Pace this season, she leads the team averaging 14.8 points per game.

Senior guard Grace Lennox reminded the entire Ohio Valley Conference why she was one of the most talked about players in the preseason, when she scored a season-high 29 points in the Panthers 77-71 conference opening win over Tennessee-Martin on Jan. 3. 

The win over the Skyhawks was Eastern’s first since Jan. 18 of 2017 and it gave the Panthers a statement win over the team that was selected to finish second in the conference in the preseason polls. 

None of the Panthers wins were ever really in question. Eastern dominated Indiana State 63-39 and pummeled Eureka College 104-48. 

The win over Eureka College marked the second time this season the Panthers have scored 100-plus points, the first came on Nov. 6 in a 102-43 win over Oakland City. The last time Eastern scored 100 points in any game prior to this season was in 2009.

The Panthers three game winning streak came to an end on Saturday with a 65-56 loss to Southern Illinois Edwardsville. Pace led the team in scoring again with 15 points, but the Panthers were unable to withstand four Cougars scoring in double figures as Eastern fell to 1-1 in conference play. 

The loss dropped the Panthers to 7-6 on the season and now just a few days into January, Eastern has four more wins than it did all of last season. 

Head coach Matt Bollant has talked about turning the program around since he took the job, and now 13 games into this season, it appears that turn around may already be here in his second season. 

Performance by players like Pace, who was recruited by Bollant, show just how quickly the team has turned around from the three-win squad it was last season. The win over Tennessee-Martin only furthered the Panthers stance as a potential tournament team in the OVC. 

Eastern plays Jacksonville State on the road Thursday. 

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