Pace, Steele combine to snap Eastern’s losing streak


Dillan Schorfheide

Eastern guard Karle Pace takes a shot in the Panthers 80-60 win over Eastern Kentucky Thursday night in Lantz Arena. Pace scored a game-high 29 points in the win.

JJ Bullock, Sports Editor

The Eastern women’s basketball Team wanted a win, it could even be said they needed a win Thursday night against Eastern Kentucky. Riding a 29-point performance from sophomore guard Karle Pace, Eastern got just what they wanted, and needed, in an 80-60 win.

A win over a now 0-9 (OVC) Eastern Kentucky team might not be the flashiest of wins for Eastern to put on the mantle, but the win snapped a three-game losing streak for Eastern, and thanks to a Murray State win over Jacksonville State, the Panthers are back in the playoff picture.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Eastern head coach Matt Bollant said. “I thought we were good offensively, and it’s certainly a game we needed to get, especially back on home court. I thought we played with a lot of confidence, a lot of poise offensively.”

Pace’s 29-point outburst could not have come at a better time for her or her team. Pace is coming off a 3-of-14 shooting performance in the Panthers’ loss to Southeast Missouri last Saturday, and Thursday night, she scored 13 points in the third quarter alone that led her team to a much needed conference win. After the game, Pace said, “It just feels good to win”.

“I had a really good day today, you know,” Pace said with a laugh. “So that was, I guess, part of it. The last couple of games, I don’t think I was giving my team what they needed from me, so today I just felt better.”

Pace is the Panthers’ leading scorer this season, and this season when she has not played well, it has shown in Eastern’s win-loss column. During the Panthers three game losing streak, she averaged just 8.6 points per game. In the same way Eastern broke its three-game skid Thursday night, Pace feels she expelled hers as well.

“It definitely feels good,” Pace said. “After last game it was … I kind of took it like ‘wow, this is really what I am doing right now?’ Because before that I had a bad game, too. I just wanted to break that; it was time to just get that over with.”

Eastern came into the game feeling like they had a pretty good chance to beat the winless Eastern Kentucky team, but by no means were they taking the Colonels lightly, to the Panthers a conference win is a conference win, and one they can use as a confidence booster moving forward.

“I told our players, ‘those guys were coming in here confident,’” Bollant said. “They beat us by 20 last year, and a lot of those players were on the court last year when they beat us by 20, and so they weren’t coming in here thinking ‘oh, we’re 0-9, oh we’re going to lose to Eastern’. They were coming in here thinking ‘we’re beating that team’. And we had to step up and play and play well today to get it done.”

Sophomore guard Taylor Steele added 15 points alongside Pace for Eastern, once again creating a formidable backcourt duo that has been so key for Eastern in wins this season.

“I thought they played like veterans, which was awesome,” Bollant said. “In the third quarter, both of them were really good and got us off to a good start. I thought both of them, the shot selection, they just took a little more time, were a little more poised in our shots and it showed; we shot 45 percent for the game, and I thought especially with Karle (Pace), it felt like she just got herself to slow down a little bit on her takes, and because of that, she shot a great percentage.”

The win moves Eastern to 3-6 in conference play and drops Eastern Kentucky to 0-9. Eastern plays Saturday against Morehead State.

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