FAIRBURN, Ohio -- The Wright State women’s basketball team gave Eastern Illinois a chance to either keep the game close or take a lead in the first half of Tuesday’s non-conference game at the Nutter Center.
The Raiders only shot 34.9 percent in the first half, but the Panthers couldn’t take advantage. Even with Wright State struggling from the field in opening two quarters, EIU only managed 20 points and were behind by 16 points going into halftime.
The offense never picked up for EIU, either, as Wright State beat the Panthers for the second straight season, this time by a 81-46 score as EIU fell to 0-2 on the season. Wright State improved to 2-0.
“I thought besides Carmen (Tellez) making a couple of shots, we didn’t have anybody else. I asked them in the locker room ‘did anyone feel like they played well?’” EIU coach Matt Bollant said. “Even in a bad game, you have kids who feel like they played well. Tonight, we had zero that felt like they played well.”
Part of it was Wright State’s defensive pressure. Bollant knew the Raiders were athletic, but the Panthers still didn’t play well offensively and turned the ball over 21 times.
“Part of that is Wright State. They are really athletic and got out in the passing lanes and we didn’t do a great job of running the offense,” Bollant said. “I thought we prepared for it in practice, but we are going to see more pressure and we have to do better next time. We missed a couple of wide open layups and missed a couple of three’s and we need those players to make those.
“That’s the hard thing. Getting yourself to believe when things aren’t going your way.”
Wright State took a quick 4-0 lead with two buckets by Chelsea Welch. But the Raiders struggled from the field for much of the first half and only shot 34.9 percent in the first two quarters, despite getting 14 offensive rebounds.
“In the first half (rebounds) really hurt us,” Bollant said. “Our defense in the first half wasn’t bad. If we would’ve added the defensive rebounding with it, we would’ve gotten the stops. We have to get better at it and hopefully Jalisha (Smith) can continue to improve because she can get it better than anybody else.”
EIU couldn’t take advantage, though. A layup by Grace McRae and two free throws by Jalisha Smith with 2:41 left in the first quarter made it 11-9, but the Panthers only scored four more points in the quarter and Wright State went up 19-13.
EIU didn’t make its first field goal until the 5:38 mark of the second quarter and Wright State took a 25-14 lead. Carmen Tellez hit back-to-back 3-pointers to pull EIU within 27-20 with 5:03 left in the, but the Panthers didn’t score again in the quarter and trailed 36-20 going into halftime.
The Panthers only shot 27.3 percent (6-of-22) from the field in the first half, including 3-of-12 (25 percent) from behind the arc and only made 5-of-9 (55.6 percent) free throws. Plus EIU turned the ball over 12 times in the first two quarters.
The third quarter didn’t get any better for EIU as the Panthers only scored nine points. Wright State’s offense started to find its rhythm and was 6-of-13 from the field and hit 8-of-9 shots from the free throw line. The 20-point third quarter for Raiders gave them a 56-29 lead.
EIU had its best offensive quarter in the fourth with 17 points, but the game was out of hand already and Wright State cruised to a 25-point win.
“We just have to be better,” Bollant said. “(Wright State) is a 25-win program and return everybody and we aren’t there. Hopefully we can learn how to get better.”