Panthers beat Tigers in overtime for second-straight OVC win


Rob Le Cates | The Daily Eastern News

Junior guard Lariah Washington attempts a layup against Tennessee State Saturday in Lantz Arena. Washington had 20 points and 11 rebounds. The Panthers won 78-70 against the Tigers.

Adam Tumino, Sports Editor

It took an extra five minutes, but the Eastern women’s basketball team was able to pick up its second-straight win Saturday.

The Panthers were able to survive a second-half comeback from Tennessee State and then outscore the Tigers 10-2 in overtime, winning 78-70. They also jumped Tennessee State in the standings with the win and now sit in fifth place in the OVC.

After having their 11-point fourth-quarter lead erased, Eastern head coach Matt Bollant said that the team got back to what was working for them earlier in the game.

“I just felt like we played smart,” he said. “We kind of took away what they wanted to do in buzz a little bit and didn’t give them the looks that they wanted.”

Throughout the game, Eastern seemed to build up leads that soon evaporated. They were up 15 midway through the second quarter, but the Tigers went on a 19-2 run to take a 38-36 lead.

But Eastern was able to pull back ahead before the trend repeated itself.

Bollant said he was happy with how the team responded to hang onto the win.

“I think that perseverance is big,” he said. “We had an 11-point lead, and give (Tennessee State) credit, they made some plays in the fourth quarter to get it back, and sometimes in basketball you’ve just got to find a way. I felt like that was today’s game. We found a way when maybe we weren’t at our best, and we played against a style that’s hard to play against.”

Eastern guard Lariah Washington led the Panthers with 20 points and 11 rebounds in the game and also eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for her career, making her the 27th player in program history to reach that milestone.

She said that the team came out with a fresh mentality in overtime after being outscored by 11 points in the fourth quarter.

“We just had to come out like it’s 0-0 and start it like how we started the game,” she said. “I think we came out and did that.”

It is not the first time this season that the Panthers put their opponents away in overtime.

They beat Evansville in double overtime on Nov. 20 at home, outscoring the Purple Aces 15-4 in the second overtime period to win 85-74.

They also beat Murray State in overtime on the road Jan. 20, outscoring the Racers 13-6 after regulation.

In their three overtime games, the Panthers have outscored their opponents 38-12 in four overtime periods.

Tennessee State came into the game with 5-3 record in conference and 10-9 overall record. This is a vast improvement from last season, in which the Tigers went 0-22 and 0-20 in conference play. Only one player, sophomore forward Kennedy Davis, is back from that team as the five freshman and nine transfers fill up the roster and make up the Tigers’ top 10 scorers.

Even though Eastern beat Tennessee State twice last season, Bollant said that this was a totally new opponent.

“We knew they were good. They started I think 4-0 in the conference. They beat Tennessee Tech, who’s one of the best teams. They beat Tennessee-Martin. It’s just a hard style to play against, and they’re good at it. They’re really good at it,” he said. “It’s just a new team, and our kids were ready to go. They knew this wasn’t the same Tennessee State we played against last year.”

The Tigers were led by freshman guard Gia Adams with a game-high 22 points. Graduate Transfer Dominique Claytor finished with 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting.

The Panthers had five players score in double figures, led by Washington with 20. Forward Abby Wahl added 12 points, Morgan Litwiller and Miah Monahan scored 11 each and Kira Arthofer scored 10 points and recorded team highs with six assists and four steals.

The 11 points for Monahan set a new season-high for the freshman guard. Litwiller has now scored in double figures in two-straight games after scoring a career-high 28 points with a school-record tying seven three pointers in the Panthers’ last game against Tennessee-Martin.

The Panthers’ next game will be Monday at 6 p.m. when they host Southern Illinois-Edwardsville at Lantz Arena.


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