CHARLESTON -- While defense will be the focus for the Eastern Illinois women's basketball team for its game on Tuesday at Cleveland State, the Panthers have to find a way to score if they want to find a way to win.

EIU comes into the game with a 1-4 record after dropping both games at the St. Joseph Thanksgiving Tournament. However, EIU coach Matt Bollant had a good amount of positive things he took away from the loss on Saturday against St. Joseph.

In Sunday’s game against Delaware, he was disappointed even with a solid defense effort. It was because the Panthers only scored 37 points against Delaware and shot only 18.8 percent in the game.

Cleveland State comes into the game with a 3-2 record and are averaging 68.8 points per game. CSU is also shooting 42.3 percent from the field, so Bollant is looking for ways to slow Cleveland State down. But it won’t matter if EIU can’t find a way to score.

The Panthers are averaging only 57.6 points per game and are shooting 32.8 percent, including 26.7 percent from 3-point range, for the season.

“We are trying to make an open shot. Just try to make a layup and an open three,” Bollant said. “It’s hard to run offense if you can’t make an open shot. I love seeing them in the gym and working on it, but it’s tough to see them not believe that it will go in.”

Bollant has been pleased with the Panthers defensive effort in the past few games. EIU held Evansville to 49 points. Even though St. Joseph scored 80 points against EIU on Saturday, the Hawks have one of the best, if not thee best offense EIU will see this season.

EIU allowed 66 points to Delaware and Bollant thought if the Panthers could’ve hit shots, they would’ve beat Delaware.

“I thought both days we played well defensively. We played really hard man-to-man defense against St. Joe’s,” Bollant said. “We did enough defensively to give ourselves a shot.”

Cleveland State was held to 64 points against Saint Louis over the weekend at a holiday tournament and then scored only 54 points in a win over Louisiana.

The Vikings have three players averaging double-figures on the season. Ashanti Abshaw leads the team with 21.8 points per game. Khayla Livingston averages 15.2 points and 5.4 assists per game. Olivia Voskhl averages 12 points and 7.8 rebounds a game.

“They are a really talented offensive team. They penetrate really well and shoot it really well,” Bollant said. “It will start with finding ways to get stops on the defensive end.”


Sports writer

Mike Monahan covers area sports for the JG-TC.

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