Eastern defense stifles Eagles in 65-50 win

Eastern+forward+Morgan+Litwiller+guards+a+Morehead+State+player+in+a+game+against+the+Eagles+on+Jan.+14.+The+Panther+defense+forced+23+turnovers+in+a+65-50+win.+

Adam Tumino | The Daily Eastern News

Eastern forward Morgan Litwiller guards a Morehead State player in a game against the Eagles on Jan. 14. The Panther defense forced 23 turnovers in a 65-50 win.

Adam Tumino, Editor-in-Chief

The Eastern women’s basketball team has turned a four game losing streak into a two game winning streak with a 65-50 win over Morehead State on Thursday. The victory improved the Panthers’ conference record to 3-4 on the season.

Coming in to the game, Eastern’s defense ranked 11th in the OVC, but the defensive performance Thursday was reminiscent of last season, when Eastern ranked third.

Eastern head coach Matt Bollant said he was happy with how the team played on defense.

“I’m just really proud of the fourth quarter we played. Unfortunately we haven’t had a lot of great fourth quarters defensively, and today was definitely our best overall performance defensively,” Bollant said. “I thought we just executed the buzz the best we have, we made a couple of tweaks in the buzz and that certainly has helped us.”

The Panthers allowed Morehead State to score just 25 points in the first half while forcing 8 turnovers and holding the Eagles to 30.8 percent from the field.

The Panthers shot 40 percent in the first half and led 31-25 at halftime.

Morehead State responded to begin the third quarter, and managed to tie the game up at one point before Eastern started to pull away. In the fourth quarter, as Bollant said, the Eastern defense put the game away.

They allowed just 9 points and held the Eagles to 4-of-12 from the field. Eastern shot 7-of-13 and scored 19 points in the quarter.

On offense, the Panthers’ balanced scoring attack made another appearance, with Lariah Washington scoring 17 points, Karle Pace scoring 16 and Abby Wahl adding 13.

All three players rank in the top-10 in the OVC in scoring, making Eastern the only team with three top-10 scorers.

Washington said that she thought the win Thursday was a solid team effort.

“I just thought we played really well together, offensively and defensively, and if we keep doing that we’ll keep getting wins,” Washington said.

As for the defensive performance of the team, Washington said that she believes it was a result of work the team has been putting in.

“I just think we have been focusing on steals and defense more, and just anticipating today was a big one.”

The Panthers used this anticipation to steal the ball 15 times, with Washington, Pace and Kira Arthofer tallying 4 steals apiece. Arthofer also recorded 8 points, 5 rebounds and three assists.

Wahl continued her strong season by adding 8 rebounds to her 13-point effort. She leads the team this seasonin both categories.

Bollant said that this game, in addition to a win against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville back on Monday, can help build momentum heading into a game Saturday against Eastern Kentucky.

“We’ve had two wins this week, we got a good Eastern (Kentucky) team. They’re 5-2 in the league. The went to Edwardsville today and played really well, and they come in with a lot of confidence,” he said. “It starts with our defense. If we can defend the way we did today, we’ll certainly give ourselves a shot.”

Eastern and Eastern Kentucky played on Dec. 30 with the Colonels picking up a 80-69 win.

The game Saturday tips off at 1 p.m. from Lantz Arena.

 

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