Women’s basketball team pulls away late to beat Eagles 68-56


Ashanti Thomas | The Daily Eastern News

Junior guard Lariah Washington drives toward the basket while Jazmyn Gaines-Burns, a freshman guard for the Morehead State Eagles, tries to guard Washington. The Panthers won 68-56 against the Eagles Thursday night at Lantz Arena. Washington scored 22 points in the game.

Adam Tumino, Sports Editor

A strong start and strong finish helped the Eastern women’s basketball team secure a 68-56 home win against Morehead State on Thursday.

The Panthers went up 16-4 to start the game and outscored the Eagles 21-11 in the first quarter. They were then outscored 27-22 in the second and third quarters combined before putting up 25 points in the fourth, 17 of which came on free throws.

The win puts the Panthers at 10-7 in conference play with one game to go. The loss for the Eagles was their 24th in a row, dropping them to 0-17 in conference play and 1-26 overall.

Despite Morehead State’s spot in the bottom of the standings, Eastern head coach Matt Bollant said that the Panthers were not expecting an easy win.

“It’s Division I basketball, so everything can be hard, and Give (Morehead State) credit. I though we got off to a great start at 16-4, and they made some plays,” he said. “Thankfully we made enough plays down the stretch. It was one of those games where you kind of have a lead, you’re kind of watching the score maybe instead of just playing, we lost a little of our aggressiveness and a little bit of our cutting, and then we didn’t make shots. But we found a way.”

After starting 7-of-10 from the field in the 16-4 start, they shot just 32.6 percent from the field for the rest of the game, ending the game with a shooting percentage of 39.6.

Luckily for the Panthers, Morehead State shot just 27.3 percent in the second and third quarters combined. The Eagles shot 6-of-11 from the field in the fourth while Eastern shot 4-of-12, but the Panthers went to the free-throw line ten times, shooting 17-of-20 from the line in the final frame. They shot 21-of-26 from the line in the second half after attempting just two free throws in the first half.

Junior guard Lariah Washington scored 22 points in the game and shot 10-of-10 from the free-throw line in the second half. She said that the team made some adjustments in the second half to get to the line more.

“I just thought we all player more aggressively and were able to get to the line and just draw the contact,” she said. “We practice free throws a lot in practice.”

The Panthers are shooting 74.9 percent from the free-throw line, the third-best mark in the conference.

Junior forward Morgan Litwiller finished second on the team with 15 points on 6-of-13 shooting. She also led the team with nine rebounds. Freshman forward Taris Thornton scored 11 points in 14 minutes off the bench, shooting 4-of-7 from the field.

Senior guard Kira Arthofer scored nine points and added four assists. She also reached a milestone, collecting five steals to tie Barb Perkes for sixth-all in steals for the Panthers with 215. Arthofer is six assists away from tying Perkes for seventh in program history in assists.

The Panthers have had several players reach milestones this season, with Abby Wahl and Lariah Washington both eclipsing the 1,000-point mark for their careers. Wahl also became the 10th player in Eastern history to have 1,200 points and 600 assists as a Panther.

Bollant said that it is nice to have players reach milestones, especially in a category like steals.

“It’s really fun,” he said. “Steals is near and dear to my heart because it’s about playing hard and playing aggressively. (Kira) had five tonight, and as a team I think we’re in the top 20 in the country with steals. A lot of that is playing hard and being aggressive, and she certainly does that game in and game out, and we do that as a team pretty well.”

The Panthers have 300 steals this season, ranking ninth in the nation.

Eastern has one more regular season game Saturday against Austin Peay. The Governors are 11-6 in conference play and are in fourth place in the OVC. The game will tip off at 1 p.m. from Lantz Arena.


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