Toughness helps EIU women’s basketball to 13th consecutive win


Han Byer

The student section erupts into celebration after the Panthers beat the University of Tennesee-Martin Skyhawks 73-50 Thursday night, allowing the Panthers a 13-win streak.

Kate Stevens, Assistant Sports Editor

EIU’s women’s basketball captured its 13th consecutive win and remains undefeated in the Ohio Valley Conference after a 73-50 win against UT Martin at home Thursday evening.

Coach Matt Bollant, senior guard Lariah Washington, and sophomore guard Miah Monahan credit the team’s success this season to the team toughness and chemistry they have.

The team is now 20-3 overall and is currently 13-0 in conference.

The Panthers were able to gain a comfortable lead over the Skyhawks in the first quarter and never looked back. They had the lead the entire game and towards the end of the fourth quarter they had the game’s biggest lead of 32 points.

The third quarter was a big one for the Panthers as they scored 25 points as they had a 57.9 shooting percentage.

Monahan led the way in the third quarter with eight points and pushed her to come out of the game as the leading scorer with 16 total points.

Bollant said he was proud of the way his team showed up to play Thursday night. Nine of the 11 players who played were able to score and there were four players who scored in double figures.

The team had 25 of its points come off the bench and they were present down low as they scored 40 of their points in the paint.

Bollant also said his team displayed toughness throughout the game, which led to the 23-point win.

“Toughness gets rewarded in basketball,” Bollant said.

He said that after last season, one of the biggest things he wanted to see this year is a tougher team.

“[I said] we’re going to try to make them tougher, and these guys have responded,” Bollant said. “Practices have been tougher and we’re better defensively, we’re better at rebounding. Obviously the personnel makes a difference as well, but I just feel like we are tougher and it shows.”

Along with being a tougher team, the chemistry on the court between the team seems to get stronger with each game. Washington said it’s based on trust.

“We just trust each other,” Washington said. “This is a great group, right now, that we have. We just love to play with each other and we have confidence in one another, so it’s just fun to be out there.”

Monahan echoed Washington’s thoughts and said that being with each other off the court is just as important to the team’s chemistry.

“I think also we spend so much time together outside of basketball,” Monahan said. “So I think that’s a big part and then it just shows on the court.”

Lyric Johnson (4), a freshman guard, rushes toward the paint in an attempt to score during the women’s basketball game against the University of Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks at Lantz Arena Thursday night. Johnson scored 12 points and had six rebounds. The Panthers won 73-50. (Han Byer)

Bollant said he knew he had a good group of women as they welcomed players Macy McGlone and Hannah Purcell, but he also said he saw improvements from the players over the past summer.

“Honestly, the summer gave me so much confidence,” Bollant said. “Miah had such a great summer that we felt like she’s gonna have a great year. And you know Macy coming in, Hannah coming in, some of the newcomers, we felt ‘gosh, these guys are talented.’ Obviously you never know what to expect, but we really anticipated good things. We came out of the summer really confident with where we were going and obviously we have shown that there’s a reason for it.”

Monahan said that after the good season they had last year that they knew they could be good this season as well.

“I think we also had a change of heart from last year to this year,” Monahan said. “We knew we could be good. We’ve put in so much work and, like, it’s so cool to see it pay off.”

Bollant and Washington say they are going to continue to keep the season day by day and game by game with the ultimate goal of getting to the OVC Tournament and doing well. They have just five games left before the tournament.

“I’m taking it one game at a time,” Washington said. “I’m looking forward to Saturday; we haven’t had an away trip in a while, so that’ll be fun.”

The next three games will be on the road as they face SIUE, SEMO, and Little Rock. They will then return home for their final two games as they host Morehead State and Tennessee Tech.

Bollant said the team has to be ready to go as they face SIUE on Saturday afternoon. SIUE’s Ajulu Thatha has been their biggest weapon as she scored 29 points and had 25 rebounds, setting SIUE’s all-time record for most rebounds in a game.

The Panthers will travel to Edwardsville for the Saturday afternoon matchup with the Cougars. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m.


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