Eastern stumbles in loss to Redhawks

JJ Bullock, Editor-In-Chief

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A big run at the beginning of the first quarter and a run at the beginning of the third quarter gave Southeast Missouri the edge it needed to hand the Eastern women’s basketball team its third conference loss of the season 77-65.

The Redhawks opened the game on a 14-2 run during a stretch where Southeast Missouri seemingly could not miss a shot and Eastern could not buy one. Eastern poor shooting to open the game haunted it all four quarters, as the Panthers finished the game shooting just 36.2 percent and 28 percent from three-point range.

Eastern clawed back from its early deficit to cut Southeast Missouri’s lead to just six points at halftime. But the Panthers opened the second half the same way they opened the first, allowing the Redhawks too many easy looks while the Panthers stumbled offensively.

Southeast Missouri led by as much as 20 with just over four minutes left in the third quarter. As quickly as Eastern had brought itself back in the game before halftime, Southeast Missouri slammed the door on them in the third quarter, putting the game securely out of Eastern’s reach.

“(Southeast Missouri) did a good job of affecting shots in the paint,” Eastern guard Karle Pace said. “I think the threes were there, its just maybe they sped us up and we just didn’t move the ball enough and get an open shot.”

Pace finished with 14 points, while freshman guard Lariah Washington led the team with 17.

“At first we were just taking quick shots and if we moved the ball more it definitely would have helped,” Washington said.

The loss was a disappointing one for the Panthers to process all the way around, but what perhaps made it sting more was how flat Eastern played just one game removed from beating an undefeated team in Lantz Arena. In their win over Tennessee-Martin on Thursday the Panthers were about as energized as ever, but on Saturday all that energy seemed to have been sapped out of the team.

“I was surprised that we weren’t (focused), I thought we were going to be ready to play,” Eastern head coach Matt Bollant said. “And I challenged them to be mature, be mature enough to handle a big win on Thursday and turn around against a really good team today and our lack of maturity showed today. I think we looked like a young basketball team after an emotional high.”

The loss drops Eastern to 5-3 in conference play, Southeast Missouri improved to 6-2.

Bollant said he could handle the Panthers playing poorly in the first quarter, but for the team to do it again in the third quarter is what he said was shocking.

Southeast Missouri outscored Eastern 32-16 in the third quarter.

 

JJ Bullock can be reached at 581-2812 or jpbullock.eiu.edu