Column: Eastern finding early offense with key factors

Oscar Rzodkiewicz, Assistant Sports Editor


The Daily Eastern News
Adam Tumino | The Daily Eastern News
Sophomore Kira Arthofer protects the ball against a defender while driving to the basket in Eastern’s 88-66 win against Lindenwood on Nov. 5 at Lantz Arena.

It’s been seven games up and seven games down for Eastern women’s basketball, and early offense has been the biggest consistency for the Panthers in the early portion of the season.

Eastern has led ten minutes of all but one game this season, leading to a +48 point differential in the first quarter alone, but the early dominance has tended to fade a bit, as opponents have outscored the Panthers in the second quarter of four of their seven matchups this year.

The switch between the first and the second quarter has tended to even games out, sometimes beneficially such as in Eastern’s matchup against Wisconsin last week when the Panthers clawed back within one score to close the half, but it has also reared its head in the opposite direction.

The biggest example came on kids day against Loyola-Chicago when Eastern posted 19 points through the first quarter before adding just 20 points in the next 20 minutes leading to an eventual 67-51 loss.

Basketball is a game of runs, and seeing both sides of that coin is not uncommon for any team and should not be alarming for Eastern, but it’s worth looking into the key contributors on the offense considering how different options have been able to pour in points at different times.

Four different players, sophomore Abby Wahl, junior Karle Pace, junior Taylor Steele and sophomore Jordyn Hughes, are averaging double-figures this year, but each game has proven to bring another potential threat to the table.

Freshman Lariah Washington started the year with just one point in two contests before rattling off three-straight 14-plus point performances in which Eastern went 2-1.

Wahl finished with just four points on 2-for-7 seven shooting against Loyola-Chicago and responded next game by tying the team-lead in scoring with 17 points of her own.

Now, in the Panthers most recent outing, Hughes came off the bench to play 25 minutes and pour in 24 points on just 10 field goal attempts, thanks in large part to 4-for-6 3-point shooting.

Wahl currently leads the team in field goal percentage for players with over 10 shots at 51.3 percent from the field and 8-for-16 shooting from beyond the arc, but Hughes is just behind at 51.0 percent from the field and even at 13-for-26 shooting from 3-point range.

The options are plentiful, and Eastern has shown to be able to get into a rhythm with all of these pieces early in games, so building off strong first quarters could be a point of emphasis for the Panthers prior to conference play starting in just under one month.

Oscar Rzodkiewicz can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]