Washington, Litwiller play last basketball game as Panthers


Ashanti Thomas

Senior guard Lariah Washington (22), protects the ball from a Tennessee Tech defender while making a one handed pass to a teammate at the Ohio Valley Conference Friday afternoon. The Panthers lost to the Golden Eagles 61-66.

Autumn Schulz, Sports Editor

EVANSVILLE, IND. — Eastern women’s basketball seniors Lariah Washington and Morgan Litwillers’ fourth straight OVC Tournament appearance ended in a 66-61 loss, sealing the end to their careers as Panthers.  

Both seniors improved offensively between last year’s OVC Tournament appearance and this year’s appearance. 

Washington ended her career as a Panther by putting up 20 points. In last year’s OVC Tournament appearance, Washington put up 17. 

Litwiller was able to contribute eight points and four rebounds during her last game as a Panther. Last year, Litwiller was able to put up six.  

Head coach Matt Bollant said that being able to coach two players all four years of their collegiate athletic career is rare. He reflected on the time that he went to see Washington play as a senior at Apollo High School in Minnesota.  

“I remember when we went to Minnesota two years ago when she scored 23 [points] you know I thought she played great, we had a chance to win,” Bollant said. “Well, a lot of kids at the mid major level, you know, what’s the next best thing for me or could I play, you know, in Minnesota, the Big Ten. For Lariah to stick it out and help us get to where we’ve gotten is pretty neat.” 

Bollant said that Litwiller worked through many injuries throughout her time as a Panther and that with both her and Washington staying on board with the Panthers, it has been amazing to caoch them. 

The Panthers made history during their 2022-2023 season as they broke and set the school record for consecutive wins in the OVC with 13-0. SIUE handed the Panthers their first conference loss on the road. 

Washington herself made individual history during her time as a Panther. Washington earned three first-team All-OVC honors, making her the third player in school history to do so. 

She is currently sixth on EIU’s all-time scorers list and her 616 career filed goals from the regular season ranks seventh in EIU history. Her 310-career made free throws ranks ninth in school history. 

Washington led the OVC in points per game with 16.6 and her 466 total points in the regular season also led the conference. Throughout the season, Washington earned OVC Player of the Week three times.  

Washington said that being able to have been a part of historic team like the Panthers is pretty special. 

“It’s pretty unique to be able to just be a part of a team that can do this and just thankful to be able to do it with everyone and be able to do it at EIU,” Washington said. “It’s a good feeling and just thankful to do that with all these girls.” 

Breaking history at home in Lantz Arena during the annual CARE game against Tennessee State was the defining moment for the Panthers this season and Bollant said he was thankful to see fans there cheering the team on.  

He also said that the team brought joy to the community.  

As both Litwiller and Washington leave the Panther basketball program behind in the hands of up-and-coming players, Washington said that they hope the team continues to improve. 

“I would just say like, just continue to build just from what we have now and to keep building through all the hard times,” Washington said.  

Macy McGlone is one of those up-and-coming players for the Panthers. Her regular season performance in the OVC earned her OVC All-Newcomer honors and she was able to put up a double-double in her first OVC Tournament appearance with 21 points and 11 rebounds. 

She said that the one thing she took away from Washington’s and Litwiller’s leadership was to build off the foundation that they built.  

“Morgan and Lariah have been here for four years, and they are just really great leaders,” McGlone said. “I think that me and some of the other girls on the team are gonna have to step up and fill that role and be the leaders on the team so we can be successful.”