During Saturday’s women’s basketball game between Eastern Illinois and Austin Peay, at least one team will end a losing streak. Saturday’s contest starts at 4:30 p.m. in Clarksville, Tennessee.
EIU looks to snap a nine-game losing streak, the latest loss a 72-61 setback to Murray State to open Ohio Valley Conference play on Thursday. Austin Peay, which hosts Saturday’s contest, is on a four-game losing streak and suffered a 61-38 setback to SIU Edwardsville on Thursday.
EIU comes into the game with a 1-11 record and is having problems taking care of the ball in the last few games, which plays into Austin Peay’s hands a bit because the Governors are forcing 17.2 turnovers per game.
The Panthers turned the ball over 17 times in Thursday’s loss to Murray State, and the Racers turned those giveaways into 24 points. Against Northwestern, EIU had 21 turnovers, and the Panthers turned the ball over 22 times against North Texas.
EIU coach Matt Bollant said the team has to cut down on the turnovers.
“Especially that first quarter (against Murray State), that really hurt us,” Bollant said. “(Danielle Berry) had seven for the game and (Jennifer Nehls) four in the first. When two of your better players have (the turnovers), that hurts you.”
Bollant said Austin Peay’s game plan is to pressure their opponents, which has helped lead to 206 turnovers this season. The Governors have 94 steals this season, with Bri Williams leading the way with 20 steals.
“For us, it starts with taking care of the basketball,” Bollant said. “They play a pressure man (defense) and are physically defensively, so we have to work hard to get good shots. They are a good rebounding team, but didn’t do it against Edwardsville.”
The turnovers start with guard play and the Panthers are still adjusting without starting point guard Grace Lennox, who is out for the season with a knee injury.
Berry, a sophomore, only has 15 turnovers on the season, but had seven against Murray State. Freshman Taylor Steele has entered the starting lineup and didn’t have a turnover against Murray State and has only 15 turnovers this season. Nehls, a sophomore forward, leads EIU with 43 turnovers.
Freshman guard Karle Pace is seeing more time off the bench and had her two best games against Murray State and Northwestern. Against Murray State, she hit two 3-pointers and finished with 12 points, one assist and no turnovers in 20 minutes. Against Northwestern, she had 8 points and one turnover in 23 minutes.
“She played well (against Murray State) and that’s two games in a row,” Bollant said. “With Grace going down, it gives her more of a chance. She was steady with the ball and knocked down a couple of 3s. She’s a kid who wants to grow and learn and she’s getting better every day.”
Nehls leads the team with 7.9 points per game. Carmen Tellez, who is coming off a 15-point game, is averaging 7.1 points per game, and Berry is also averaging 7.1 points per game.
Austin Peay, which is 7-5 on the season, suffered a 23-point loss to Edwardsville, but the Governors were without their best player, Keisha Gregory, who is averaging 11.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.
The reason why Gregory missed the game is unknown, but what is known that Austin Peay is a completely different team without her.
“You take out their top scorer and rebounder and it’s a whole different team,” Bollant said. “It makes a big difference whether she’s in or not.”
It’s unknown if Gregory will be available for Saturday’s contest.
After Gregory, Falon Baker is averaging 9.9 points per game, and Brianne Alexander is averaging 8.3 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.