Women’s basketball team loses two key games


Dillan Schorfheide

Carmen Tellez looks down after a foul call during Eastern’s 67-57 loss to Morehead State in its Care Game in Lantz Arena Feb. 2.

JJ Bullock, Sports Editor

Exactly what could not happen for the Eastern women’s basketball team happened this weekend when the team dropped two games to Southern Illinois Edwardsville and Southeast Missouri, iced by an 80-54 blowout loss to the Redhawks at home on Saturday.

The Panthers entered the weekend 4-8 in conference play, teetering between a conference playoff berth and slipping into irrelevancy; in other words, they needed wins. What occurred for Eastern instead was a beat down on the boards from the Cougars on Thursday which led to a 78-62 loss and a collapse in Lantz Arena against Southeast Missouri.

“It was definitely a disappointing weekend for us,” Eastern head coach Matt Bollant said. “For our players, we were obviously hoping for different results and we just did not play well in either game.”

The Panthers knew they not only needed wins, but they knew going into each game what they were going to have to do to secure those wins. A win on Thursday meant they had to stop the Cougars on the boards, and a win on Saturday meant containing Southeast Missouri’s Tesia Thompson. Neither plan was executed to fruition.

Southern Illinois Edwardsville outrebounded Eastern 39-28, Cougars’ forwards Sydney Bauman had a game-high 11 rebounds, guard Grace Lennox and forward Jalisha Smith led Eastern with five.

“That Bauman … that kid was really good, she just played really well,” Bollant said. “Our post players had played really well against Austin Peay and we needed them to play well again, but unfortunately they just didn’t.”

Thompson struck the Panthers just as hard on Saturday, scoring a game-high 20 points on 8-of-16 shooting.

“Physically, she just really has a physical presence to her, she gets to the rim and rebounds, can hit a three as well,” Bollant said of Thompson. “I think that we’re not incredibly physically gifted, so players that have those gifts sometimes can be a challenge for us, and we have to have things go right to get stops.”

The loss to Southeast Missouri was truly a blowout in every sense of the word. The Redhawks came into Lantz Arena where Eastern held an 8-3 record and pushed around the Panthers en route to a 26-point victory. Southeast Missouri shot 59 percent from the field, Eastern shot 36 percent. Southeast Missouri had 46 points in the paint; Eastern had just 24.

Bollant said his team was “probably as down as they have been in the halftime locker room and then after the game they were probably as down as they have been.”

“Everyone in life goes through adversity and a lot of your life, if you’re going to be successful, you’ve got to respond the right way,” Bollant said he told his team after the game. “We choose to respond the right way this week and get better and control what we can control and play better than we did this last week.”

The Panthers’ outlook for a conference tournament, too, is as down as it ever has been. At 4-10 now in conference play, Eastern finds itself in 10th place, two games back of 8th place and a conference tournament spot. It is a grim reality, but nonetheless the one Eastern recognizes itself in.

“Obviously, we have got a lot of work to do,” Bollant said. “We need a lot of things to go right for us in the next two weeks for that to happen.”

Freshman forward Abby Wahl’s performance on Thursday served as perhaps the only bright spot in a very dim weekend overall for Eastern. Wahl was 6-of-9 shooting against Souther Illinois Edwardsville and scored an Eastern-high 16 points.

“Abby has just continued to develop and has been our best post player consistently over the last month,” Bollant said. “That is exciting for the future because post players are really hard to find and she has been really good and pretty consistent for us, especially with the demands physically we are putting on her with each and every game.”

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