Eastern beats Murray State by 20

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Adam Tumino | The Daily Eastern News

Eastern guard Kira Arthofer dribbles around a Murray State defender in the Panthers' 66-46 win Feb. 20 in Lantz Arena. Arthofer had a season-high eight assists in the game.Adam Tumino | The Daily Eastern News Eastern guard Kira Arthofer dribbles around a Murray State defender in the Panthers' 66-46 win Feb. 20 in Lantz Arena. Arthofer had a season-high eight assists in the game.

JJ Bullock, Editor-In-Chief

Eastern’s women’s basketball team wanted redemption, but more specifically, the team wanted to not give up 92 points again to Murray State. Eastern accomplished both of these things, beating Murray State 66-46 in Lantz Arena Thursday night.

Eastern (10-5 OVC) got not just the redemption it was seeking against Murray State (5-10 OVC), after losing to the Racers in overtime Jan. 30, but the win also punched Eastern’s ticket to the conference tournament in March.

Junior guard Taylor Steele led Eastern with 17 points in the win and junior Karle Pace added 14.

Eastern secured its first conference tournament berth under head coach Matt Bollant in his third season and first tournament appearance for Pace and Steele.

“This is what we have been waiting for,” Pace said on the tournament berth.

“It just shows all of the hard work we have been putting in the last two years and it’s like finally paid off, which is a good feeling,” Steele added.

Murray State led the game early, outscoring Eastern 14-8 in the first quarter. But the Panthers took the lead for good in the second quarter and outscored Murray State in the final three quarters, including a 24-9 advantage in the second quarter.

Eastern was boosted by its defense throughout the game, forcing Murray State to commit 24 total turnovers.

“To hold them to 14 (points) or less in every quarter was pretty good,” Bollant said. “Especially when we weren’t our best in the first quarter offensively, so I thought we responded well. And to have 14 steals to their two is a pretty good stat. Obviously the number of steals we get is important to us playing the buzz and being aggressive, but that’s a really good stat as well.”

Eastern shot just 2-of-14 in the first quarter but stayed in the game by holding Murray State to just 37 percent shooting in the quarter. Part of Eastern’s motivation, or maybe much of it, came from how Eastern lost the first time to Murray State. Eastern held a 10-point fourth quarter lead in that game and eventually lost. That put a chip on Eastern’s shoulder, Pace said.

“Last game (against Murray State) just wasn’t our game,” Pace said. “We were just more on the same page than we were last game. Last game it just wasn’t our game so we knew coming in that we were going to have to guard them and … we did.”

Bollant said he does not really believe in revenge games, but he does believe in pride and that’s what Eastern needed more of this time against Murray State.

“Our pride for our defense was not very good last time, let’s show it today, and they did that,” Bollant said.

Eastern plays Austin Peay in Lantz Arena Saturday at 1 p.m. A win Saturday would lock Eastern into at least the No. 5 seed in the conference tournament.

 

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