Panthers drop close game to Minnesota

Adam Tumino, Editor-in-Chief

Minneapolis was almost the site of an upset win for the Eastern women’s basketball team Wednesday afternoon against Minnesota

But despite outplaying the Golden Gophers in several phases of the game, the Panthers fell just short in a 72-68 loss. Eastern is now 1-1 on the season.

The Panthers jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter and led by as many as 7 points in the first half. Minnesota did not lead once in the first half, but came out hot in the third quarter.

At the same time, Eastern began to struggle from the field, shooting 5-of-17 in the third quarter and eventually finding themselves down 9 points.

The Golden Gophers were able to hold off Eastern for the rest of the game and pick up the win.

Eastern head coach Matt Bollant said he was happy with how the team competed for much of the game against a Big Ten opponent.

“I was really pleased with our team. I thought we outplayed Minnesota today and did a lot of things right to get a chance to win the game,” he said. “The stretch in the third quarter hurt us. We got off to a good start in the third quarter, scored a couple buckets, and then we just had a stretch offensively where we kind of lacked poise and just didn’t get the shots or didn’t finish the shots that we needed to finish. That hurt us on the other end as well because it led to transition for them.”

Bollant said that the game was also a good opportunity to see how the Panthers measured up against a high-quality opponent. Minnesota was led in the game by Kadiatou Sissoko who scored a game-high 24 points and collected 8 rebounds. Jasmine Powell scored 21 in the game for the Golden Gophers and tallied 8 assists.

“I was kind of really curious to see where we’d look talent wise playing against a Big Ten team, (Sissoko) was the No. 2  recruit in the country and the point guard (Powell) is really good as well,” he said. “They had some really good pieces.”

Eastern had some standout performers in the game as well.

Sophomore guard Lariah Washington led the team in scoring for the second straight game, this time scoring 22 points while shooting 9-of-17 from the field.

Bollant said that Washington has improved her shooting ability following a successful freshman season and has made improvements in other areas as well.

“She’s made threes, which makes her a lot more dangerous,” Bollant said. “Her ball handling has gotten better so she’s more comfortable with the ball as well, and I think she can finish over the top now a little bit more, she’s gotten physically stronger as well, which has made a difference.”

Junior forward Abby Wahl scored 16 points for the second straight game to open the season and Karle Pace added 15 points and 3 three pointers.

Eastern will now head back home to face Northern Illinois and Western Illinois in the Compass Tournament.

The Panthers will tip off against Northern on Friday at 3 p.m. and against Western on Sunday at 2 p.m.

 

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