Women’s basketball team encouraged after exhibition match win over Millikin


Han Byer

Morgan Litwiller (24), a senior forward, looks for someone to throw the ball in bounds the women’s basketball game against Millikin at Lantz Arena Thursday afternoon. Litwiller scored eight points and had three rebounds. The Panthers won 82-78 against the Big Blue.

Kate Stevens, Assistant Sports Editor

 The Eastern women’s basketball team defeated No. 14 Division III Millikin University 82-78 in an exhibition match on Thursday evening in Lantz Arena. Senior guard Lariah Washington and sophomore forward transfer Macy McGlone led the team in scoring to record their first victory of the season. 

Head coach Matt Bollant said the win against Millikin was encouraging and showed him the areas in which the team needs to grow as they begin the season.

He said Millikin played well and gave the team a challenge on defense, but they were able step up and make the right moves to capture the win. 

“Overall, I’m pleased with our team,” Bollant said. “Obviously, we’ve got some areas to grow. They (Millikin) got hard to guard for sure, but pleased that we pulled it out and kind of found a way today.” 

Washington said that it was exciting to get the win as the game was neck and neck for a majority of the time. 

“[The game showed] we can push through,” Washington said. “I mean, it was tough, up and down, but we came through and we were able to pull out the win, so it’s just exciting that we can do that.” 

Bollant said the team struggled a bit in the closed scrimmages they had in the preseason but was happy to see the improvement as it he said was encouraging offensively. 

“We had more poise today,” Bollant said. “We didn’t shoot the ball as well, but we got quality shots, even the 16 threes (attempts). To score 82 points when we didn’t make open threes, it’s probably encouraging offensively. We know we’ve got a ways to go defensively.” 

McGlone was also happy with her team’s improvement as she echoed Bollant’s point about playing better than they had in previous scrimmages. 

“Like Coach B said, we did improve from Sunday, which I also think is a great thing,” McGlone said. “I mean, obviously we let up a lot of points, but we did a really good job on offense.” 

The struggles on defense came for EIU as Millikin threw up 10 3-point shots in the game. They had five alone in the third quarter and after not having much of a lead throughout the game took their biggest lead in the fourth quarter as they lead 74-68 halfway through the quarter.  

EIU was able to take back the lead after senior forward Morgan Litwiller was fouled on the putback after Washington’s missed three-point attempt. She missed the free throw, but that was putback by McGlone, which put them up 75-74 with just minutes to spare.  

After Millikin was able to put up a few more shots, EIU was able to seal the win as Washington was fouled on the layup and scored the free throw to put the score at 80-78 with 36 seconds to go.  

Both seniors, Washington and Litwiller, had solid games.

Washington led the Panthers with 29 points and Litwiller led with four steals and had eight points and two assists. 

Lariah Washington (22), a senior guard sticks with a Millikin Big Blue player attempting to drive the ball towards the goal in Lantz Arena Thursday evening. Washington led the Panthers with 29 points. The Panthers won 82-78 against the Big Blues. (Han Byer)

Washington expressed that she was happy to get a win in the first game back on the court as a senior.  

“It was super cool to be out with everyone,” Washington said. “I mean, we have been practicing a lot, playing against each other, so it was just fun to get out here with fans and play against a different team.”  

McGlone and sophomore guard Miah Monahan were both able to post double doubles as McGlone had 24 points and 12 rebounds and Monahan had 13 points and 11 assists.  

McGlone said her first game as a Panther was great and that it was exciting to hit the court with her team against an opponent.  

“It was great,” McGlone said. “I mean. I felt like the crowd was really energetic and good. It was just really fun to play in that environment.” 

She also said that she’s enjoyed getting to know her team both on and off the court and playing together Thursday night was a good start. 

“Honestly, to me, it feels great,” McGlone said. “I mean, our team off the court is really close, and on the court, I think it shows that we have really good chemistry.” 

The Panthers will be officially opening their season on Monday evening at 6 p.m. as they face Missouri St. Louis for their home opener. 

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