Panthers compete in Hawai’i tournament


Rob Le Cates | The Daily Eastern News

Freshman guard Julia Bengston drives around a defender in transition during Eastern’s double-overtime win against Evansville on Nov. 20 in Lantz Arena.

Adam Tumino, Sports Editor

The Eastern women’s basketball team spent its Thanksgiving weekend in The Aloha State, playing in the University of Hawai’i Tournament. 

The Panthers entered the tournament with a 4-0 record to start the season but lost to host Hawai’i on Friday for their first loss of the season.

They then played Gonzaga on Saturday and Utah on Sunday, a pair of teams that received votes in the most recent Coaches Poll for Division I. Eastern lost both games. 

Going back to the Hawai’i game Friday, the Panthers fell behind early. Hawai’i opened the game on a 10-0 run and outscored Eastern 20-8 in the first quarter. 

The Panthers were able to bounce back a bit in the second quarter, outscoring the Rainbow Wahine 16-13 in the period. 

Unfortunately for the Panthers, the third quarter unfolded much like the first, with Hawai’i outscoring them 21-12. Hawai’i won by a final score of 71-50. 

The Panthers were able to force 21 turnovers in the game, marking the fifth-straight game to start the season in which the Panthers forced more than 20 turnovers. 

They were led by freshman guard Julia Bengston with 3 steals off the bench. After scoring a career-high 13 points in the Panthers’ win against Oakland on Nov. 22, Bengston led the team with 12 points against Hawai’i. 

She shot 6-of-10 from the field in the game. 

Also in double figures for the Panthers was junior guard Lariah Washington with 10 points. Senior forward Abby Wahl added 9 points and a team-high 6 rebounds. 

Hawai’i had four players in double figures, led by forward Amy Atwell with 16 points. 

Freshman Nnenna Orji had 10 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 5-of-5 from the field. 

After the loss, Eastern had to play a Gonzaga team Saturday that beat Utah 89-71 the day before. 

The game started similarly for the Panthers as their game against Hawai’i, with the Bulldogs opening the game on a 9-0 run. 

The first and third quarters were once again an issue for Eastern, with the Bulldogs outscoring them 50-30 in those two quarters combined. 

Eastern was only outscored 24-23 in the second and fourth quarters combined. 

The Panthers once again won the turnover battle, forcing 15 Gonzaga turnovers while only turning it over eight times themselves, but they were only able to score 7 points off those turnovers. 

Eastern did shoot well from three-point range as a team, going 10-of-22 from deep, but only shot 10-of-42 on two-point attempts. 

Wahl led the team with 13 points while senior guard Kira Arthofer recorded 6 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals. 

The Bulldogs were led by twin guards Kaylynne and Kayleigh Truing with 17 and 11 points respectively. They shot a combined 10-of-13 from the field and 8-of-10 from three. 

On Sunday against Utah, a dominant first quarter from Utes was the difference. 

Utah outscored Eastern 34-12 in the opening peroid, including a 16-0 run from the Utes to open the game, making it three-straight games for the Panthers where their opponents opened the game with an extended scoring run. 

Eastern outscored Utah 65-59 the rest of the way, but lost the game 93-77. It was the most points the Panthers have allowed since their game against Northwestern on Dec. 10, 2020, in which they also allowed 93 points. 

For the third-straight game in the tournament, the Panthers won the turnover battle. They forced 18 Utah turnovers and turned it over 15 times. 

Washington led the Panthers with 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field. 

Bengston scored in double figures for the third time in four games, setting a new career high with 16 points off the bench. 

She shot 6-of-8 from the field and 3-of-4 from three while adding a team-high 4 rebounds. She also played a team-high 30 minutes. 

Senior guard Jordyn Hughes scored 14 points and Arthofer added 11 to go along with 5 assists. 

Freshman forward Jenna Johnson led Utah with 22 points and 6 rebounds, both game highs, in just 18 minutes of play. 

The Panthers will be back in the lower 48 states for the foreseeable future and will play in the Compass Tournament on Dec. 3 and Dec. 4. 

They will play host Western Illinois to open the tournament and then either Southern Illinois or Northern Illinois the following day. 


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