Panthers win by 56 points to open season


Rob Le Cates | The Daily Eastern News

Lariah Washington, a junior guard, jumps for the ball at the tipoff for the women’s basketball game Tuesday night against Lindenwood. Washingotn led the team with 16 points. The Panthers won 86-30.

Adam Tumino, Sports Editor

The Eastern women’s basketball team opened the regular season in style Tuesday night, beating Lindenwood 86-30 at home. 

The Panthers opened the game on a 17-0 run, allowed just 10 points in the first half and forced 29 turnovers in the win. 

Comparing this game to last week’s exhibition against Illinois Wesleyan, which Eastern won 83-54, head coach Matt Bollant said the defense settled in much earlier for the Panthers. 

“I just feel like our defense was so much better tonight than it was against Wesleyan,” he said. “We guarded and we took pride in our man, created turnovers in the first half and that helped us offensively as well. It just felt like we were at another level defensively tonight.”

Lindenwood shot just 6-of-31 in the first three quarters and 1-of-15 from three. 

As good as Eastern was defensively in the first half, their offense was equally as productive. The Panthers shot 19-of-32 in the first half, leading the Lions 45-10. After struggling from three-point range against Illinois Wesleyan, shooting 5-of-22, the Panthers were more selective and efficient from three against Lindenwood, especially early on. 

They shot 5-of-9 from three in the first half as a team. They were less successful in the second half, shooting 1-of-7 from deep, but still made 37.5 percent of their threes. 

Bollant said that the team rushed shots in the exhibition, but were much more under control Tuesday. 

“We were so ramped up for the first game we just shot them a little bit fast, and today we did a better job,” he said. “In the first couple possessions we were open a little bit, and we turned down a three, we got the ball inside or got a drive, and I think we got off to such a good start offensively going 4-for-4 in the first four possessions, instead of jacking up the three and missing one.”

Two of the first five made baskets for Eastern were from junior guard Lariah Washington, who ended with a team-high 16 points on 8-of-9 shooting, most of which were layups. Washington said that her open looks came as a result of the team rebounding and passing well. 

“I think we just all went in and rebounded and my team was able to give me good passes up the court,” Washington said. “I think that the defense really led to the offense.”

Joining Washington in the starting lineup for the Panthers were guards Kira Arthofer and Jordyn Hughes and forwards Morgan Litwiller and Abby Wahl. It was this lineup that gave the Panthers a commanding lead early on, shooting a combined 20-of-34 on the game. 

Hughes finished second on the team with 13 points while shooting 3-of-4 from three and added 6 rebounds. Arthofer led the team with 5 assists and 4 steals. She was also the only Eastern player to play more than 20 minutes in the game and was a +41 in those minutes. 

Bollant pulled the starters midway through the third quarter, playing exclusively underclassmen for most of the second half. 

All four freshman saw plenty of action in their first regular season game at Eastern. Forward Taris Thornton was third on the team with 10 points while also collecting 4 rebounds and 3 steals. Guards Miah Monahan and Julia Bengston had 8 and 7 points respectively. Monahan did not miss a shot, going 3-of-3 from the field and 2-of-2 from the free throw line. 

Rounding out the freshman was center Ellie Colson, who scored a point and grabbed 4 rebounds. 

As a team, the Panthers outscored Lindenwood 39-7 off turnovers, 52-12 in the paint and 31-2 on fast breaks. 

Eastern’s next game will be Nov. 17 on the road against Indiana State.  


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