By Jonathan Stark
The women’s basketball team is on its worst losing streak in 23 years. The last time the Lady Colonels lost 10 straight was the 1985-86 season under coach Diana Murphy. Eastern finished 8-17 that season, and Murphy did not return the next season.Saturday, Eastern Kentucky lost its 10th straight game of the season to Eastern Illinois. The Colonels had 21 turnovers and 25 personal fouls in the 70-59 loss.
The Panthers knocked down their first shot and never relented. They were able to force turnovers on Eastern Kentucky’s first two possessions, and by the time the Colonels got on the scoreboard, Eastern Illinois was rolling.
EIU led by 10 several times in the first half and was up 33-25 at halftime. The Colonels had 13 turnovers in the first half but managed to outrebound the Panthers 17-15.
The second half had more going right for Eastern Illinois and even less going right for the Colonels.
Controversy between head coach Chrissy Roberts and the officiating crew sent an EIU player to the line shooting technical foul shots with about six minutes to go. Both coaches had been at odds with the officials for the majority of the game.
The technical may have been the spark that the Colonels needed, as they cut the deficit from 17 to just seven with about three minutes to go.
But that would be as close as they would get, as the Panthers built their lead back to double digits and won 70-59.
Nadia Mossong scored 14 points and led Eastern in rebounds with 12.
“She was just a beast on the boards,” Roberts said. “She was aggressive looking to attack.”
Roberts wasn’t sure if Mossong was going to be able to play due to back spasms.
Kayla Drake broke the 20-point mark for the seventh time this season with 20 points.
“She stepped up – she played a solid game,” Roberts said. “People don’t know this kid was sick. She was pumping chocolate and Powerade at halftime. She played through it. She showed toughness. This whole team showed toughness.”
The Colonels shot 31 three-pointers, over half their shots. They hit only nine (29 percent). Roberts said she has no problem with the team shooting so many threes.
“We got a lot of players that can shoot the three,” Roberts said. “When you’ve got four out of your starting five that can knock down threes consistently, you don’t want to take that away.”
Eastern Kentucky outrebounded the Panthers 45-40.
Eastern Illinois is now 19-7, 12-2, and in second place in the OVC.
Last Thursday, SEMO dispatched Eastern for the second time this season. The Colonels lost their ninth straight game, 66-56.
Eastern was down from the start after a SEMO three-pointer to open the game. The relatively slow-paced game only picked up when the Colonels were forced to hurry up the floor to escape SEMO’s full court pressure. The pressure didn’t seem to bother the Colonels too much, though.
“They showed us what they were going to do in shootaround, so we just prepared and just took our time and broke it instead of rushing it,” Kayla Drake said.
The Redhawks held their lead throughout the first half, leading by as many as 11. The Colonels mustered up an 11-0 run to close out the final three minutes of the half and take a 26-25 lead into the locker room, their first lead of the game. Cherie White scored eight during Eastern’s run.
White accounted for nine points and seven rebounds in the first 20 minutes.
SEMO and Eastern battled throughout the first 10 minutes of the second half, but the Redhawks began to pull away after a 6-0 run. Eastern was still within striking range in final minutes but could not overcome the deficit.
“Shots just weren’t falling,” White said. “We did everything right, and then you look at the shooting percentage.”
After seven made foul shots in the final two minutes, SEMO locked up the 66-56 win.
White finished with 13 points and 14 rebounds. She made six of nine free throws. Kayla Drake had 13 and six assists. Ilona Muszak had 12 points, all from three-point range. Nadia Mossong chipped in with nine rebounds.
SEMO is now 13-12 overall, 8-6 in the OVC.