Column: Look at OVC matchups for Panthers

Adam Tumino, Editor-in-Chief

The Eastern women’s basketball team is continuing to tune up for the 2020-21 season, which is scheduled to begin on Nov. 25.

Let’s take a look at how the Panthers, who finished fourth in the OVC last season, matched up with the other seven teams that made the conference tournament in 2019-20.

 

Tennessee-Martin

The Skyhawks finished in first place in the OVC regular season rankings before losing to Southeast Missouri in the championship game at the OVC Tournament.

Eastern played Tennessee-Martin three times, twice in the regular season and once in the tournament, going 1-2. The Panthers were outscored by the Skyhawks 221-190 in those three games.

Tennessee-Martin will have Chelsea Perry back for her senior year after she led the conference in scoring as a junior.

 

Belmont

The Panthers only played Belmont once last season, in which the Bruins finished second in the standings. Eastern lost the game 69-45.

Belmont will be at a disadvantage this season having lost Ellie Harmeyer, who finished third in the conference in scoring and led it in rebounding as a senior last season. The Bruins’ highest returning scorer is Jamilyn Kinney, who averaged 8.2 points per game last season.

 

Southeast Missouri

The RedHawks won the OVC Tournament last season after finishing as the three seed and beat Eastern twice along the way by scores of 77-65 and 72-56.

They lost their second-highest scorer in Carrie Shephard but are returning Tesia Thompson, who finished second in the OVC with 19.7 points per game last season.

 

Jacksonville State

Eastern beat the Gamecocks twice last season, 55-52 in the regular season and 49-46 in the OVC tournament.

Destiney Elliott and Taylor Hawks were the only two Gamecocks to finish in the top 30 in the OVC in scoring last season. Elliott will not be back this season, but Hawks is set to return for her senior season.

 

Tennessee Tech

Eastern and Tennessee Tech only played once last season, with the Golden Eagles getting the 75-62 win.

Tennessee Tech had three players average double digits in points per game last season in Kesha Brady, Mackenzie Coleman and Jordan Brock. All three will be returning for their senior seasons this year.

 

Austin Peay

The Governors are the only team in the top-eight in the OVC that Eastern beat twice in the regular season last season. The Panthers beat them 76-47 and 73-72.

The Governors had a more balanced offense last season. Their highest scorer in 2019-20 was Arielle Gonzalez-Varner, who ranked 20th in the conference with 10.4 points per game.

Gonzalez-Varner will not be back this season, so Ella Sawyer will be their highest returning scorer. She averaged 9.5 points per game last season as a freshman.

 

Murray State

Last season’s eighth-place OVC team Murray State beat Eastern 92-87 in its first matchup of the season on Jan. 30. It was the most points Eastern gave up in a conference game last season.

Eastern bounced back in a big way in the second matchup, beating the Racers 66-46. The 46 points was tied for the second-fewest allowed by Eastern to an OVC opponent last season.

Murray State’s highest scorer from last season was Macey Turley, who will be back for her junior season this year.

 

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