The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

EIU to face Tennessee State in the OVC tournament

Eastern will play Tennessee State University for their first game in the OVC tournament. They were 2-0 against the Tigers this season. (File)

The final whistle has been blown on the first round of the Ohio Valley Conference Women’s Basketball Championship in Evansville, Indiana.

The first round was played on Wednesday, March 6, and split into two games: 

  • No. 8 Tennessee State University vs. No. 5 Morehead State University played at 1:00 p.m. 
  • No. 7 Western Illinois University vs. No. 6 Tennessee Tech University was played at 3:00 p.m. 

The game between Tennessee State and Morehead State ended up being a defensive battle, with Tennessee State coming out on top 58-50. Tennessee State was led by graduate forward Eboni Williams, who recorded her second double-double of the year with 13 points and 12 rebounds. 

Head coach of Tennessee State Ty Evans accredits Williams’ game to her love of basketball. 

“There’s a sense of urgency that you play with that I think is common with players who love the game of basketball,” Evans said. “I think that’s what you’re seeing now. You’re seeing a young lady who’s playing every possession like it’s her last.” 

Eastern’s head coach Matt Bollant and the Panthers have faced Williams and the Tigers twice in 2024. Their last meeting was on Feb. 22, two weeks before their OVC tournament rematch. That game ended 66-56 in Eastern’s favor. The first time these two teams met in 2024 was far closer, with the Panthers winning in overtime 71-67.   

“They are a good team,” Bollant said. “It’s never easy playing a team for the third time. You know we beat them twice, but a lot of respect for them and their talent.”   

Despite Eastern’s two wins against Tennessee State, Evans says there’s no sense of redemption in his locker room. He is more focused on getting his team past the second round and moving on in the playoffs. 

“Eastern Illinois is a good basketball team,” Evans said. “They have the best player in the league, they’re well coached, they’re fundamentally sound, they’re disciplined. We got our work cut out for us, and at this time in March, if you want to be a good team, you got to beat a good team.” 

The winner of Eastern vs. Tennessee State will play the No. 1 seed University of Southern Indiana. A win against Southern Indiana would give Eastern a spot in the OVC championship game. 

In terms of team health, Bollant said freshman guard Lalani Ellis is still recovering from an MCL sprain, yet the rest of the team is doing well health-wise. 

The match between Eastern Illinois and Tennessee State will take place on Thursday, March 7 at 1 p.m.  

 

Aidan Cusack can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].

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Rob Le Cates
Rob Le Cates, Editor-in-Chief
Rob Le Cates is a junior journalism major. He previously served as summer editor-in-chief, photo editor and assistant photo editor at The News.

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