Litwiller, Washington celebrated during Senior Day


Han Byer

Seniors, Lariah Washington and Morgan Litwiller pose for a picture with their family before the women’s Senior Day basketball game against the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles at Lantz Arena Saturday afternoon.

Kate Stevens, Assistant Sports Editor

115 games. 4,600 minutes. 67 wins. Four OVC Tournament appearances. Countless amounts of blood, sweat, and tears.

That is what seniors Morgan Litwiller and Lariah Washington have helped bring to the EIU women’s basketball program.

The Panthers may have not been able to get the win at home against Tennessee Tech on senior day, but Litwiller and Washington are still proud of the season EIU has had.

And it’s not over yet.

The Panthers finished 21-7 overall and 14-4 in conference and are heading to the OVC tournament as the second seed next weekend. They have a double bye, so they will hit the court in the semifinals for a 3:30 p.m. tipoff on Friday, March 3, at the Ford Center in Evansville, Ind.

The Panthers do not have anything to hang their heads about after the loss and certainly have a lot to be proud of after having one of the best seasons in several years. EIU has not had 20 or more wins in a season since the 2012-2013 season.

The Panthers lost 66-61 in a close game with the Golden Eagles. Statistically speaking, the two teams had a similar game, but the Golden Eagles were the team that was able to get it done.

Golden Eagles’ Jada Guinn was a player that EIU had a tough time shutting down as she had 22 points and nine rebounds.

Head coach Matt Bollant said the team had themselves in a good position to win in the fourth quarter and was disappointed for the seniors that they ended up losing.

“I felt we put ourselves in a great position, up six in that fourth quarter,” Bollant said. “[We] just didn’t make the right plays down the stretch and give Guinn a lot of credit, she was amazing, [she] got in deep and got some really good shots.”

Bollant said he would have changed the way he called things towards the end of the game.

He said he was proud of the seniors and the way they played not only today, but the entire season.

“Disappointed for these guys; they’ve had a great senior run and a really good season,” Bollant said. “Hopefully we’ll learn from it and go play great in the conference tournament.”

Head Coach, Matt Bollant ends a team huddle before the start of the women’s Senior Day basketball game against the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles at Lantz Arena Saturday afternoon. (Han Byer)

Washington said that while the game was back and forth, the team should have been able to keep the lead and take the win.

“Yeah, it was back and forth, but I think we could have just kept the lead,” Washington said. “We could have just slowed it down. When we have the momentum, we just gotta keep it going.”

Litwiller echoed Washington’s words and said she was always confident in her team to get things done, but the team was just unable to get the stops it needed.

“Basketball is a game of runs,” Litwiller said. “I think through my head the whole time was like ‘okay, they made their run, now let’s make ours.’ So, I was just pretty confident in our team that we would keep making those runs and unfortunately, we just didn’t get the stops down the stretch that we needed.

​As the Panthers had a five-point lead in the fourth quarter with under five minutes remaining, a couple turnovers and missed shots caused Tech to take back the lead and to gain five on EIU. At that point in the game, Washington said they were focused on trying to score and get stops.

​Macy McGlone was the scoring leader for the Panthers as she had 15 points while also leading the team in rebounds with six. Washington recorded 13 points and four assists for the team and Litwiller had seven points and two assists. Miah Monahan had nine points and seven assists for Eastern.

​Litwiller and Washington expressed that they were happy to play for their last time at Lantz Arena in front of an electric crowd which included their closest family and friends.

​“I’d say in the four years I’ve been here, I’ve never seen Lantz that bumpin’,” Litwiller said with a smile. “It was really cool just to see how much the community has come out to support us and to have our family and friends here,it was just a really special feeling to have all the people that really care

about us and we care about them in the same room watching us play for the last time here. It was bittersweet.”

​“It’s great to have family here,” Washington said. “I’m nine hours away, so just to see this many people come to support for senior night is really cool. Just seeing the community and the fans and everything is just super cool. Just knowing we have a support system here is great, so it’s just really nice to have all the love out here.”

​As mentioned earlier, the season is not quite over for the Panthers after the loss. Litwiller said the team is eager to get down to Evansville for the tournament and to show the OVC what they have got.

​“I think I’m most excited to show these other teams what they haven’t seen yet,” Litwiller said. “We have so much potential, we have so much we can work on in this next week. And I think that we have a lot of growth yet to come, so I feel like we’re gonna go into this tournament and we’re going to give everything we have.”


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