By Keith Ritchie
The Eastern women’s team has dropped three games in a row after losing to Eastern Illinois and Southeast Missouri State at home last week.Eastern Illinois (10-8, 6-1 OVC) beat the Colonels (8-9, 5-3 OVC) on Thursday 60-50.
The Colonels jumped out to a 15-2 run to start the game, making seven of its first 11 field goals. The Panthers scored only two points through the ten-minute mark in the first half.
Then something changed.
The Panthers woke up after the dismal start, and answered with a 10-point run.
Dominique Sims tied the score at 21-21 after a pair of free throws with just under three minutes left in the first half. Sims finished with 17 points and eight rebounds.
The Colonels went into the locker room with a 23-21 advantage.
Eastern Illinois took the lead after scoring the first four points of the second half.
Eastern Illinois’ Ta’Kenya Nixon hit a three-pointer with 11:45 left in the game, to bring the Panther advantage to 35-32. The Panthers kept the lead for the rest of the game.
The Colonels were within five with two minutes left, but the Panthers hit seven of ten free throws down the stretch to secure the win.
Nixon led the Panthers with 16 points and 17 rebounds, and was named OVC Freshman of the Week.
Freshman forward Alex Jones recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Colonels.
The Colonels did force 22 turnovers against an Eastern Illinois team that was ranked 31 in the nation for fewest turnovers per game (15.6).
“We have to be more aggressive,” senior forward Colette Cole said. “We need to be more of an instigator, showing more toughness.”
The Eastern offensive struggles continued Saturday with a home loss to Southeast Missouri, 43-41.
The Colonels shot nearly 42-percent in the first half, and went into the locker room with a 26-25 deficit.
Eastern shot nearly 26-percent in the second half, hitting only seven of 27 attempts from the field. The poor shooting resulted in only 16 second-half points.
Senior guard Sarah Fraser-Jones hit a three-pointer with just-over nine minutes left to take a 37-35 lead.
The Colonels were unable to score again until 2:28 mark, when freshman guard Shakeyia Colyer hit a jumper to bring the deficit to two, 41-39.
Eastern had two chances with six seconds left to tie, but were unable to hit.
“The play has been different than from the start of the season,” Head Coach Chrissy Roberts said. “We aren’t executing.”
Roberts said there could be some changes in the near future.
“Right now, I haven’t decided, but I’m leaning toward a new starting lineup,” Roberts said.
Both losses last week were without junior guard Talisha Davis, due to a death in her family.
“It’s a tough loss for the team,” Coles said. “It’s tough emotionally and on the floor.”
Players traveled to Indianapolis on Monday to be with Davis and her family.
“We want her to know that we are on her side, and that she is a part of our family,” Coles said.
Davis is expected to return sometime this week.
The Colonels played Southern Illinois Edwardsville last night, and host Morehead at 4 p.m. on Saturday. Results of both games will be included in next week’s edition.