CHARLESTON — The Eastern Illinois women's basketball team hosts SIU Edwardsville at 1 p.m. today (Saturday) at Lantz Arena in what the program hopes is a new tradition. Saturday is the first CARE game.
The EIU women's team partnered with Ashmore Elementary, Carl Sandburg Elementary, Charleston Middle School, Riddle Elementary, Williams Elementary and Mattoon Middle School to raise funds for the Sarah Bush Lincoln Regional Cancer Center, which helps local cancer patients and survivors with their immediate needs.
The mission of this event is to raise funds for local cancer survivors and their immediate needs, to honor cancer survivors and educate the community on early detection of cancer and preventative measures.
During Saturday's game, fans can make monetary donations, buy a CARE T-shirt and bid on a silent auction in the concourse.
"It's been great. The money will stay locally, and we hope to raise $10,000. We've had about 120 classrooms that have raised money," EIU coach Matt Bollant said. "We are just really excited about the CARE game. We will have some survivors at the game, and they will be recognized. It puts life in perspective and shows there are bigger things going on, and I am glad to have the help that we have had for this."
EIU (2-26, 1-16) looks to snap a 12-game losing streak against an SIUE (16-12, 13-4) team that is the No. 2 team in the OVC. SIUE won the first meeting 62-52 on Feb. 7. Seniors Lauren White and Donshel Beck stepped up in the fourth quarter to help the Cougars win the game. White finished with 17 points, hit four 3-pointers and had four steals in the game, and Beck had 17 points, seven rebounds, six assists and three steals in the win.
White leads SIUE with 14.1 points per game, and Beck is averaging 13.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.
"They have won a lot of close games. We were in it through the fourth quarter. They have two seniors that have done a lot for them," Bollant said. "They have good pieces around them, but those are the kids that stepped up in the fourth quarter and made plays with the game on the line."
SIUE is one of the better rebounding teams in the OVC with 37.8 rebounds per game, and EIU is toward the bottom with 32.4 rebounds per game. But in the first game, EIU outrebounded SIUE 30 to 28.
"We outrebounded them last time, and it was a sign that we played with a lot of energy," Bollant said. "We worked hard last game against them, and hopefully we do the same this game."
The Panthers lost to Murray State on Thursday but scored 63 points. It was only the sixth time during OVC play where they scored 60 or more points. Bollant is hoping that offensive performance carries over to today (Saturday).
"I thought we played well against Murray. We were tied in the fourth quarter and they went on a spurt," Bollant said. "We didn't make enough plays at the end, but overall we played well and we look to bring that momentum into Saturday and play even better."
Karle Pace is averaging 12.4 points per game in OVC play, and Taylor Steele is averaging 11.8 points per game in league play for EIU.