Panthers beat Redhawks by 24 points to win 2nd-straight game


Adam Tumino | The Daily Eastern News

Eastern guard Lariah Washington fights through contact to make a layup in the Panthers’ game against Southeast Missouri Saturday in Lantz Arena. Washington scored 21 points in the game, which Eastern won 68-44.

Adam Tumino, Sports Editor

The Eastern women’s basketball team won its second-straight conference game Saturday, beating Southeast Missouri 68-44 at Lantz Arena.

The Panthers got back to .500 in OVC play with the win and are now 3-3 after a 1-3 start, which included three-straight losses.

It was the also the second-straight game in which the Panthers held their opponents under 30 percent from the field, and head coach Matt Bollant said that the defensive effort in the last two games has made a big difference coming off the Panthers’ recent conference losses.

“What a big change, from 57 percent in our two losses to Murray and Austin Peay, so I think we’ve just been a little bit more sound, we’ve taken a little more pride in it and haven’t given up as many easy shots,” he said.

Bollant said he was happy to get the last two victories after falling just short during a three-game losing streak.

“We worked so hard against Belmont and didn’t get the result. Worked so hard at Austin Peay, didn’t get it, and the first game at Murray, we were right there in those games,” he said. “So it’s just great to feel what we feel in the locker room after a good team win. Sometimes they need to see the reward for their hard work.”

The Panthers jumped ahead early, getting off to a 7-2 lead and outscoring the Redhawks 18-12 in the opening period.

The Panthers also took the second quarter 17-12, taking an 11-point lead into halftime. The Eastern defense held Southeast Missouri to 10-of-31 shooting in the first half.

The first five minutes of the third quarter saw the Panthers more than double their lead, going on 17-3 run to take a 52-27 lead.

This surge was fueled by junior guard Lariah Washington, who scored 14 of those 17 points. She finished with a game-high 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting. She also had four assists and a team-high eight rebounds.

She said that the success early in the second half came from the high level of defensive play and passing.

“We just knew we could do it, and we were finding each other on the court and just making the right plays,” she said.

Washington also said that defensive play have helped with their recent success as a team, and it will remain a point of emphasis going forward.

“We’ve just been really focusing on defense,” she said. “I know that’s something that we really try to work on, so throughout rest of the games we have this season, we’re just really going to focus on our defense.”

In addition to holding the Redhawks to just six made field goals in the second half, they also held them to 0-of-16 from three-point range.

In addition to Washington, the only other Eastern player to score in double figures was senior guard Kira Arfhofer, who had 13 points and recorded team-highs with six assists and three steals.

Southeast Missouri was led by Kennedi Watkins with 13 points Deanay Watson with 10. Each player recorded a double-double, with Watkins grabbing 11 rebounds and Watson recording 10.

Eastern will be on the road for its next game Monday against Tennessee Tech at 6 p.m.


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