Washington, Litwiller expected to lead the women’s basketball team this season


Rob Le Cates

From left Kira Arthofer, a senior guard, and Morgan Litwiller, a junior guard, congratulate Miah Monahan, a freshman guard, on leading the team with 15 points at the women’s basketball game against the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Cougars on Monday at Lantz Arena. The Panthers won 89-65 against the Cougars.

Kate Stevens, Assistant Sports Editor

The Eastern women’s basketball team will begin its season Thursday evening with an exhibition game at home against Millikin University.

Head coach Matt Bollant said that he and his team are ready to play and are excited to get on the court.

​The team ended its season in the first round of the Ohio Valley Conference championships last year in a loss against Tennessee State.

The team worked in the offseason to better themselves and to come back stronger than last year.

​EIU is preparing for Millikin, the 14th ranked Division III team in the country. They made an appearance in the NCAA Division II Sweet 16 round last season and will come to Charleston to give EIU a run for its money.

​“They’re ranked 14th in the country, they’ve got a returning first team, and Elyce Knudsen, arguably the best Division III player in the country,” Bollant said. “Certainly, one of the top [players], she averaged 20 [points] a game as a sophomore, and so we know that we have a quality opponent.”

​EIU last faced Millikin in the 2016 season where the Panthers defeated the Big Blue 97-54.

Both programs have turned around and have been successful in the last few seasons compared to their last meetings.

​Bollant said the team has been scrimmaging in preparation for this exhibition as well as the season and he looks for the players to grow and get better with each game they play going into the OVC season.

​In that preparation, Bollant sees that his team will be on top of things offensively and defensively and that they will play quickly.

​“I think we’re gonna play fast,” Bollant said. “I think we get up and down the court quickly. We’re going to have an attack mentality, both offensively and defensively and I think we’re going to be fun to watch because of how fast we play.”

He said he is excited about his young team.

“I love our players,” Bollant said. “They have really goodattitudes. Great kids. Super coachable. Growing as a team and growing as a program is fun.”

Bollant also expressed his excitement on having his team being led by seniors Lariah Washington and Morgan Litwiller.

“[To have] two seniors both preseason all-conference is exciting,” Bollant said. “Obviously, we are counting on them to lead us and do it the right way.”

He spoke highly of the two seniors, who have had outstanding careers both on and off the court at EIU.

He wants the rest of the team to mimic the way they act on and off the court.

“Act like Lariah, act like Morgan, carry yourself the way they do and then you’ll become a great basketball player,” Bollant said.

Washington and Litwiller had a great junior season and because of that, Washington said they are excited for this season and want their senior season to be the best one yet.

The team showed a lot of potential last season, and they hope to carry that on and more as they begin this season.

EIU and Millikin will tip off in Lantz Arena at 6 p.m. Thursday as they face each other in their first game (exhibition) of the season.

Kate Stevens can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]