CHARLESTON — Matt Bollant wished his opponent’s final free throw attempt went in rather than clanging off the rim and scooting into a scramble.
“We had something set up if they had made it,” Eastern Illinois’ coach said, a slight smile across his face.
Instead, Del’Janae Williams’ second free throw rimmed out with three seconds left, but EIU couldn’t grab the rebound out of a scrum in time to get a shot off.
EIU had plenty of chances before, though. Indiana State ensured the Panthers couldn’t use enough of them. In the first of its four non-conference games against Missouri Valley teams, EIU lost to Indiana State 59-57 Sunday afternoon to drop to 1-1 this season.
“Definitely a more physical team than we’ve played,” guard Taylor Steele said.
Karle Pace led EIU with 20 points. Abby Wahl had 16 points, and Steele added 15. Pace made a baseline floater on a backdoor cut with five seconds left to make the score 58-57 before the Panthers fouled Williams.
“When we were down three, we wanted a 3,” Bollant said.
Added Pace: “I probably should have pulled it out and maybe we had a chance to get a 3.”
You have free articles remaining.
EIU shot 40.7 percent, a result of failing to finish enough of its steady supply of shots around the basket and shooting out of awkward, crowded spots. Indiana State fared marginally better, at 41.1 percent.
“We took some shots that weren’t necessarily great shots,” Bollant said.
Sommer Pitzer stole the ball away from Pace beyond the 3-point line and cruised for an uncontested layup to give Indiana State a 56-51 lead with 57 seconds left.
Indiana State needed just 88 seconds early in the third quarter to turn a 34-31 deficit into a 40-34 lead. EIU fueled it with an early-clock missed 3-pointer and consecutive turnovers. EIU tied the score at 40 after Indiana State went nearly four minutes without a point, but the Sycamores scored seven straight to take the lead for good.
EIU grabbed 10 fewer offensive rebounds than Indiana State, but committed 11 fewer turnovers. Neither team shot above 60 percent from the foul line.
Pace scored 13 points in the first half, including a pair of 3s, the second of which gave EIU its largest lead of the first half, 31-25, with 1:14 left.
EIU led 32-31 at halftime.