By ROBERT RISTANEO
The Eastern women’s basketball team extended its winning streak to three games over Thanksgiving, beating Miami (OH) 77-72 and East Tennessee State 64-41 to improve to 3-1 on the season.
For the Miami game, the Colonels traveled to Oxford, Ohio to play in Millett Hall.
The Colonels were down at halftime by eight after getting outscored in both the first and second quarters. Eastern matched the Redhawks (2-2) in the third quarter with 15 points.
The fourth quarter was a different story as Eastern’s junior guard Michaela Hunter made a timely 3-pointer with 2:03 left in the game to cut Miami’s lead to just two. Hunter forced a steal at the other end to give the Colonels possession.
Eastern senior guard Polly Murray grabbed an offensive rebound and drew a foul before making both free throws to send the game to overtime.
The Colonels went on a run in overtime after junior guard Alexus Cooper made two free throws, sparking a 7-0 run. Cooper made another big shot, netting a three to put Eastern up by nine points with 27 seconds left.
The Colonels’ big three of Jalen O’Bannon, Hunter and Murray all finished in double figures, as O’Bannon recorded her first double-double in maroon with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Murray added nine rebounds to her stat line, while Hunter added seven boards and shot 50 percent from behind the arc.
Eastern did a good job forcing turnovers and competing on the glass with Miami as the Colonels forced nine steals and kept the rebounding margin within one, 43 to 44.
Eastern returned home three days later to take on the East Tennessee State Pirates (3-3) in a game where the Colonels had another big fourth quarter.
After going into half with a seven point lead, the Pirates came out and tied the game up at the end of the third quarter before the Colonels went on a monstrous 30-7 fourth quarter to help Eastern coast to a 23 point victory.
The Colonels shot 50 percent from the field and a whopping 58 percent from three. Eastern held the Pirates to just 24 percent from the field and an even worse 12 percent from three.
The Colonels also won the battle on the glass, out-rebounding East Tennessee State 37 to 44.
O’Bannon recorded her second straight double-double with 16 points and 16 rebounds. Hunter was dead-eye from 3-point land again, making all three she attempted to give her 15 points and four assists on the night. Freshmen forward Abby Wright added 12 points in just nine minutes of play, making all five shots she took.
Murray had an off game, going 2-5 from the field to finish with just five points.
The Colonels (3-1) will look to continue the hot streak as it hosts Cincinnati Christian University at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 3.