Not knowing whether they would make it until after the last game of the season, the women’s basketball team traveled to Nashville as EKU’s sole representative in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament.
Playing as the seventh seed, the Colonels played in-state rival and second seed Morehead State. Expected to finish eleventh in the conference, the favored Eagles shocked the OVC and finished the regular season 21-9, with a 11-5 conference record. In the tournament, though, Morehead State was without their best player—first team All-OVC player Brianna McQueen—due to an ACL tear in the middle of February.
The Colonels started the first quarter firing on all cylinders, outscoring Morehead 26-15 and playing one of their best first quarters of the season. The second quarter was no different, as EKU played lock-down defense the entire quarter, ending up with 8 steals at the end of the half. It was one of EKU’s best played halves of the season, as they took a 40-29 lead into halftime.
The Colonels’ high energy efforts carried over into the third quarter, extending their lead to 16 behind a strong defensive effort.
“You’ve got to get stops, but you have to believe and trust in each other,” Roberts said of the team’s effort.
The fourth quarter seemed to be all but over until the final three minutes, as Morehead stormed back from a double-digit deficit to cut the lead within 5 points. But, Eastern’s hustle was far too much to overcome in the fourth, as the Colonels escaped with a 73-67 win.
Jalen O’Bannon lead the way for the Colonels with a double-double, putting up 24 points and 10 rebounds.
“I felt it early,” O’Bannon said. “The whole team felt it. This is our second trip in a row to the tournament and we were just ready to play.”
Alexis Cooper also contributed 14 points and 4 assists despite a slow start to the game.
“It was a good team effort from top to bottom—you can tell these girls want to stay and play, and I want to stay and play,” Roberts said.
Coming off the bench, junior Madison Wood stepped up for the Colonels. The 6’3” forward from Kirkwood Community College put up eight points, seven rebounds and five blocks in her best game of the season.
“Morehead is a fun team to play,” said Wood. “The first time we played them it wasn’t pretty, and we really wanted to come back from that.”
After pulling the upset on the number two seed, EKU plays the winner of third-seeded SIUE and sixth-seeded Tennessee Tech Friday at 3 p.m.