Women’s basketball secures second seed in OVC tournament


Han Byer

Miah Monahan (3), a sophomoore guard drives toward the basket while being pressured by defenders during the women’s basketball game against the Morehead State Eagles at Lantz Arena Wednesday afternoon. Monahan scored five points and had eight assists. The Panthers won 60-49.

Kate Stevens, Assistant Sports Editor

The EIU women’s basketball team hosted Morehead State Wednesday evening and they were able to break their three-game losing streak as they defeated Morehead 60-49.

With this win, the Panthers moved to 14-3 in conference play. They also hold second place in conference as well as at least the second seed in the upcoming OVC tournament.

EIU started the first quarter looking the best they have looked in the last few games. The Panthers put up 20 points to Morehead’s nine.

The first half of play and the defense in the fourth quarter is what gave the Panthers the win.

Coach Matt Bollant said even though the team did not look as good in the second as they did in the first half, he was happy the team was able to snap the losing streak.

“I’m pleased with the first half and to get back and win to end the losing streak feels good,” Bollant said. “I thought we played a really solid first half, built ourselves a 15-point lead. I wasn’t real pleased with the second half; I feel like we kind of let up and didn’t guard and didn’t rebound the way we could have.”

Although Morehead was able to close the gap down to a six-point game with 2:39 to go, EIU was able to keep them from scoring for the rest of the game. The Panthers came out of the game with an 11-point lead.

“At the end we stepped up and made it an 11-point game and it was great to have Lariah play so well, and then Taris in her first start for a while to step up and play really well,” Bollant said. “We held them to 49 points. Obviously if you do that you feel good about your defense. Overall, I thought holding them to 20 in the first half was really good. Happy to be back on the winning trail.”

As Bollant said, Lariah Washington did have her best game in a while. She led the team with 21 points as she was held to just two and eight points in the last two games. She said it felt good to be able to get back out there and back to herself.

Morehead State’s Sandra Lin (3) is pressured by Lariah Washington (22), a senior guard, during the women’s basketball game against the Morehead State Eagles at Lantz Arena Wednesday afternoon. Lin scored five points and had seven assists. Washington led the Panthers with 21 points and had three assists. The Panthers won 60-49. (Rob Le Cates)

“It feels good,” Washington said. “Just being able to provide for my team is what really felt good tonight. Just getting in the extra work this week I can tell really helped, so I’m just gonna continue to do that and provide for my team as I can.”

Taris Thornton had 15 points in her first start in a while and Macy McGlone also put up 15 points. Thornton said winning Wednesday evening is motivating as the team finishes out the season and continues on to the OVC tournament.

“I just feel like we’re just getting back to what we were doing at first and just being more motivated,” Thornton said.

Washington also noted that this win gives the team confidence and they are excited to get into the last game and then the tournament.

“It felt good just to get back to winning,” Washington said. “Obviously, we had a three-game losing streak so just to be able to pull off this one today feels good and just gives us more confidence going into the Saturday game and the OVC tournament.”

Bollant and the players are excited that they locked in the second seed at the OVC tournament.

If the team would not have taken the second seed Wednesday evening then Saturday would have to be a tie-breaker with Tennessee Tech. With Tech in third place now, EIU may have to face Tech back-to-back.

“It’s good to get another win and now we’re not going to be tied with them,” Bollant said. “So it’ll be fun to see what we do on Saturday. There’s a good chance we could play on Saturday and then turn around and play them on Friday because we’re going to be the two seed and they’re gonna be the three if they win their game (Thursday).”

The second seed is the highest seed Eastern has seen since getting the first seed at the tournament in 2013.

“It’s just cool to be the two seed,” Washington said. “We haven’t been that since I’ve been here. So it’s pretty cool to know we have that secured.”

Thornton echoed Washington’s thoughts.

“I agree about being the number two seed and I think it’s a big opportunity for us to show what we can do.”

The team has just one more step before the tournament.

In the Panthers’ final game hosting Tennessee Tech, they will celebrate their two seniors, Lariah Washington and Morgan Litwiller. Bollant and Washington both said they are excited for senior day.

“It’s just really exciting and cool to have it be me that’s a senior now,” Washington said. I’m just excited to be able to play with my team at home and it’s just really cool to do that with Morgan. I’m just really excited for the Saturday game at home and to have my family here to support me.”

Bollant said he is proud of how far the two of them have come in their four years at EIU.

“Those guys, coming in, didn’t know each other,” Bollant said. “It’s just nice to see them so tight and go through the four years together. When we recruited them, we said ‘hey, come and help us build something here, come do something that hasn’t been done in a while.’ Man, those guys have been a huge part of getting our turnaround and helping us to 21 wins and a number two seed. It’s fun to see their growth throughout the four years.”

The senior day tip off against Tennessee Tech at Lantz Arena is scheduled for 1 p.m.