Last season the Eastern Illinois women's basketball pushed Wright State. The Panthers had five-point lead at halftime, but the Raiders came back in the second half and pulled out a 10-point win against the Panthers.

So this game could give EIU its second comparison game of the season. EIU faced Indiana State in an exhibition game earlier this season and beat the Sycamores. A year ago, the Panthers lost by 27 points to ISU.

However, it's a tougher comparison to make with the Wright State game this season because EIU coach Matt Bollant, after looking through the film, said the Raiders flat out didn't play their best game against the Panthers last season. He thinks the Panthers will see a tougher version of the Raiders this season when they travel to Wright State for a 6 p.m. tip on Tuesday.

"Wright State didn't play very well and Indiana State played well (last year)," Bollant said. "Wright State wasn't ready to play last year. I think we will see a very different team from last year. I am just excited to see if we can grow. I feel we didn't show our best and this is a new opportunity to grow and see what we can do."

EIU comes into the road game with an 0-1 record after losing to Northern Illinois 93-64 on Friday. It doesn't get any easier for the Panthers since Wright State won 25 games last season and returns three key players - Chelsea Welch, Emily Vogelpohl and Lexi Smith. Wright State beat Northwestern Ohio 106-52 on Friday and Smith didn't play.

Welch averaged 18.6 points per game last season to go along with 3.2 assists, 2.0 steals and 5.1 rebounds. Smith averaged 12.8 points, 8.9 rebounds and Vogelpohl scored 10.9 points and had 3.0 assists and 2.2 steals per game.

"Northern is a little more skilled, but Wright State is much more athletic and they will have a fantastic year," Bollant said.

With the key core of its offense back, the Panthers defense has to find a way to slow down the Raiders and part of the responsibility lies on the offense.

"Our shot selection and scoring helps," Bollant said. "It's hard to run on a made basket, so not turning the ball over and shooting a good percentage is key. That's what hurt us against Northern Illinois, we can't shoot 35 percent. We have to shoot 45 percent to keep them out of transition."

Defensively, Wright State only allowed 61 points per game last season. EIU scored 64 points against NIU and Grace Lennox led the way with 17 points, seven assists, six rebounds and three steals. Halle Stull scored 11 points off the bench for the Panthers.

"Wright State relies a lot on their athleticism," Bollant said. "They are going to get out and pressure and get in passing lanes and create turnovers. You don't see that a ton and we have to prepare for that."


Sports writer

Load comments