Basketball teams open seasons over break

Adam Tumino, Editor-in-Chief

The day before Thanksgiving was also the first day of the college basketball season, and Eastern’s men’s and women’s basketball teams took the floor.

It was the women’s team that played first, tipping off at noon against UIC in Lantz Arena.

After a 35-point Eastern victory in a matchup last season, the Flames gave Eastern a tougher challenge this time around, but the Panthers extended their lead late to win 82-71.

Five Eastern players scored in double figures, led by reigning OVC Freshman of the Year Lariah Washington with 18 points.

Abby Wahl and Morgan Litwiller added 16 points apiece, Karle Pace scored 12 and Taylor Steele scored 10.

It was in the rebounding department where Wahl was even more successful, grabbing a career-high 21 rebounds. She was one short of tying the school’s single-game record for rebounds.

Newcomer Brianna Mishler saw her first action as a Panther after sitting out last season due to transfer rules. She shot 2-of-4 from three, scoring 6 points in 8 minutes off the bench.

The men’s team took the court nine hours after the women’s team, tipping off at 9 p.m. in Madison against No. 7 Wisconsin.

The Panthers and Badgers played last season as well, with Wisconsin winning 65-52.

Eastern fared even better against the Badgers this season, losing 77-67.

Eastern outrebounded Wisconsin 40-37 and shot better from three-point range, putting together a strong second half to cut a 23-point halftime deficit down to 10.

For Eastern, last season’s leading scorer Josiah Wallace led the team in scoring once again with 22 points.

Wallace led the team in scoring once again when the Panthers took the court on Nov. 27 against Marquette, but the team did not perform as well.

The Golden Eagles won 75-50, holding the Panthers to just 26.2 percent from the field. They also outrebounded Eastern 50 to 31.

Eastern guard Mack Smith extended his streak of consecutive games with a three pointer to 83 games after making a three in each game so far.

Eastern was scheduled to play Nov. 29 against Butler but the game was postponed after Butler had to pause team activities due to positive COVID-19 tests within the pro-gram.

The men’s team will play again Thursday at home against Chicago State. The women’s team will be on the road Wednesday to play Minnesota.

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