PHILADELPHIA — Even though the Eastern Illinois women's basketball team lost both games at the St. Joseph's Thanksgiving Tournament, coach Matt Bollant was pleased with the way the Panthers played in the first game but was disappointed with the offensive performance in the second game.
Against St. Joseph's on Saturday, EIU was behind at halftime, but a 19-point third quarter made it a tight game. St. Joseph's was able to hold off the Panthers to pick up an 80-62 win. Bollant saw a completely different offensive team from EIU on Sunday, as the Panthers only scored 37 points in a 66-37 loss to Delaware.
EIU falls to 1-4 on the season.
St. Joseph's scored 21 points in the first quarter and went into halftime with a 46-28 lead. But then the Panthers opened the second half on a 14-0 run and came within four points at 46-42. But St. Joseph's answered with a 10-0 run to take back control of the game.
Bollant thought St. Joseph's was the best team the Panthers faced this season.
"The third quarter was our best quarter of the year, by far," Bollant said. "The first half was good. They are a good, physical team. I am proud of our effort. This team was better than Northern Illinois and Wright State, and we had a better result than those two games."
Jennifer Nehls scored a career-high 13 points for EIU and grabbed six rebounds.
"I am proud of the team. Against Northern Illinois and Wright State, we didn't do a good job of playing from behind, and today we did, against probably the best team we will play all year," Bollant said.
Sunday's game didn't go as well. EIU trailed 17-12 at the end of the first quarter, but only scored nine points in the second quarter as Delaware built a 33-21 lead. Then Delaware scored 23 points in the third and cruised to a 66-37 win after the Panthers only scored 16 points in the second half.
EIU shot only 18.8 percent (12-of-64) for the game.
"We missed 14 layups in the first half and probably 25 for the game. It's hard to score when you can't make those," Bollant said. "If we had played like we did (Saturday), we would've won by 15. We didn't show up with the belief that we can make shots. We just have to have a short memory and forget about this game. Just get back to playing better and playing with confidence."
Grace Lennox scored 16 points and was named to the all-tournament team.
Bollant liked the way EIU played on defense. The Panthers held Delaware to 36.1 percent (22-of-61) shooting and forced 16 turnovers. EIU just couldn't find a way to score.
"The zone helped us in the first half. We were down 11 at half, and I thought we should've been up 10 if we had been able to do something offensively," Bollant said.