Panthers climbing OVC standings


Dillan Schordheide | The Daily Eastern News

Eastern freshman Lariah Washington drives into the lane against Morehead State on Feb. 8 in Lantz Arena. Washington had 11 points, three rebounds and three steals in the game, which Eastern won 67-62 in overtime.

JJ Bullock, Editor-In-Chief

To say the Eastern women’s basketball program has turned a corner this season would be a colossal understatement (so I will not say it).

Eastern’s 67-62 victory over Morehead State Saturday was the Panthers’ eighth OVC win this season in 12 games, or as many conference wins as the Panthers’ had in their previous two seasons combined.

At 8-4 in OVC play Eastern has not just showed it is a better team than it has been in a long time, but it is showing the rest of the conference they are no longer a program in development, they are a program that is here to win now.

Eastern has won three games in a row and should win a fourth when it plays Southern Illinois Edwardsville (3-20, 1-11 OVC) Thursday in Lantz Arena. Eastern is moving up the conference standings and sits in fifth place, just a game behind 9-3 Tennessee Tech.

The Panthers look good, but the trick is, so do the four teams in front of them, three of which have beaten Eastern already this season.

Belmont and Southeast Missouri (both 10-2) sit in second place in the OVC. Belmont beat Eastern 69-45 on Jan. 4 in what will be the only meeting between the two teams this season. Southeast Missouri beat Eastern in Lantz Arena 77-65 on Jan. 25.

Eastern will get another shot at Southeast Missouri Feb. 27.

Tennessee Tech beat Eastern in Lantz Arena 75-62 Jan. 18. That will also be the only time those teams meet.

All three of those teams sit in front of Eastern in the standings and all three of those teams gave the Panthers a little bit of a reality check when they met.

But Eastern has one win on its resume that should make the rest of the OVC certainly take note. The Panthers handed first place Tennessee-Martin (11-1 OVC) its only conference loss of the season, 74-70, Jan. 23.

Eastern can compete with the top teams in the conference, as its win over Tennessee-Martin indicates, but Eastern has also shown it can be vulnerable to the teams its chasing.

What to make of that is hard to say, and given Eastern will not see Belmont or Tennessee Tech again this season, it looks like we will have to wait until the conference tournament to see if Eastern can redeem itself.

Eastern’s remaining six games include four games the Panthers will be favored in, two of which will be against Southern Illinois Edwardsville, and one a piece against Murray State (4-8 OVC) and Austin Peay (4-8 OVC).

A conference tournament bid appears to be a lock for Eastern right now; how far they go in the tournament, we will just have to wait and see.


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