Women’s basketball team back home after 4-straight on road

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Dillan Schorfheide | The Daily Eastern News

Eastern guard Taylor Steele (15) guards a Loyola-Chicago player in the Panthers’ 67-51 loss to the Ramblers Nov. 13 in Lantz Arena. Steele had seven points and two rebounds in the game.

Adam Tumino, Women's Basketball Reporter

The Eastern women’s basketball team (4-3) will be back on its home court Saturday afternoon for the first time since Nov. 13. In the four road games since, the Panthers went 3-1.

Their first visiting opponent in nearly a month will be Omaha (4-5). The Mavericks come into the matchup on a two-game winning streak.

While the Panthers boasts the top defense in the OVC, allowing just 57.1 points per game, and the third-best offense in the conference, scoring 69.6 points per game, Omaha finds itself lower in the Summit League rankings.

Omaha is averaging 61.4 points per game offensively, good seventh in the nine-team conference. Leading the team in scoring is junior guard Claire Killian, averaging 10.6 points per game.

With this number, Killian would be the fifth-leading scorer on the Panthers. She ranks 18th in the Summit League in scoring.
Killian ranks fifth in the conference, however, in three-point percentage (43.8)

Defensively, however, the Mavericks have fared much better. They are allowing 64.3 points per game, the third-best mark in the Summit League.

The Mavericks’ leading rebounder is 6-foot-3 sophomore center Elena Pilakouta. From Cyprus, Pilakouta is averaging 6.1 rebounds per game to go along with 8.3 points per game. Her shooting percentage of 51.5 percent leads the team and ranks fifth in the Summit League.

Eastern’s leading rebounder has been Taylor Steele so far. She is averaging six rebounds per game despite being six inches shorter than Pilakouta.

One of Eastern’s strengths has been its shooting from deep. The Panthers have a three-point percentage of .341 this season, which is the second-best percentage in the OVC. Abby Wahl, the Panthers leading scorer, is shooting 50 percent from three-point range, as is sophomore guard Jordyn Hughes. Steele’s three-point percentage is third on the team at .357.

This may be tested against Omaha’s three-point defense. The Mavericks are holding their opponents to a 28.5 three-point percentage. In the Summit League, only South Dakota State (25.5) boasts a lower opponents three-point percentage.

The matchup Saturday is the first between Eastern and Omaha since the Mavericks hosted the Panthers on Dec. 6, 2015. Omaha won the game 76-67.

Omaha will be at Lantz Arena for the first time since Dec. 5, 2014, when the Panthers won 77-66.

Eastern and Omaha will tip off at 1 p.m. and it will be the Panthers’ final game before winter break.

Adam Tumino can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]