Panthers to play exhibition Wednesday


File Photo | The Daily Eastern News

Eastern forward Abby Wahl pushes through a defender in a game against Eastern Kentucky on Jan. 16. Whal had 10 points and 9 rebounds in the game, which Eastern won 73-68.

Adam Tumino, Sports Editor

The Eastern women’s basketball team will be back on the court Wednesday evening. 

The Panthers will be at home for an exhibition against Illinois Wesleyan at 6 p.m. It will be the only exhibition of the season for Eastern, and the regular season will begin on Nov. 9 against Lindenwood, also at home. 

Wednesday’s exhibition will provide the first look at a Panther team that will be looking to make the OVC Tournament for the third-straight season. 

The Panthers were 11-15 overall last season and 9-11 in conference play, finishing in eighth in the OVC and losing their first game of the OVC Tournament to top seed Tennessee-Martin. 

This season, Eastern will have a pair of preseason All-OVC selections on the court in forward Abby Wahl and guard Lariah Washington.

Wahl was named first team All-OVC last season after leading the team with 14.5 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, both of which ranked fifth in the conference. 

Washington was named second team All-OVC last season as a sophomore after being a first team selection her freshman season and also receiving OVC Freshman of the Year honors. 

She averaged 14 points per game to rank second on the team and eighth in the OVC. 

There are other major contributors that will be returning for the Panthers as well.

Point guard Kira Arthofer will be back after leading the OVC in assists with 119. She averaged 4.6 assists, ranking second in the OVC, and 2 steals per game. 

Junior forward Morgan Litwiller will also be back after producing last season, despite missing some time due to injury. 

Litwiller appeared in 21 games last season and averaged 7.7 points and 3.3 rebounds per game. She was averaging double figures in scoring midway through January, but saw that number decrease over the last month and a half of the season. After being injured on Jan. 30, Litwiller returned on Feb. 20 and scored just 9 points in the final four games of the season. 

Having Litwiller back will give the Panthers another offensive threat, as she has shot 35 percent from three so far at Eastern. She scored 17 points two times last season, one short of her career high in points set during her freshman season.

All four freshmen from last season will be back for the 2021-22 season. Forward Parker Stafford played the most out of last season’s freshman class, averaging 7.8 minutes per game, often coming in to give Wahl a rest. 

She had highs of 8 points and 6 rebounds on the season while appearing in 22 games. 

Four freshmen are on the roster for this season, two frontcourt players and two backcourt players. 

Guard Miah Monahan comes to Eastern after a stellar senior season at Glencoe-Silver Lake High School in Minnesota. She averaged 24.1 points, 9.2 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game, being named All-State and a finalist for Minnesota Miss Basketball. 

The Panthers have another Minnesota recruit in guard Julia Bengston. As a senior at Becker High School, Bengston averaged 15.4 points and 4.2 assists per game. She was named Minnesota Class 3A Player of the Year and led Becker to the Class 3A State Championship. 

Also new to the Panthers are center Ellie Colson and forward Taris Thornton.

Colson averaged 11.4 points per game as a senior at Summit High School in Tennessee. Thornton, a product of Willowbrook High School in Lombard, Illinois, averaged 10 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocks per game as a senior. 

The exhibition Wednesday will be the first matchup between Eastern and Illinois Wesleyan since Nov. 1, 2019. The Panthers won that matchup 83-50. 


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