Eastern Illinois women’s basketball falls to Tennessee State 62-53 behind a late second half rally from the Tigers. Grace Lennox led the Panthers with 15 points, five assists, and a season best five steals.
The loss drops the Panthers to 1-14 on the season and 0-3 in the OVC while Tennessee State improves to 6-9 and are now 1-1 in the conference.
Tennessee State had four players earn double figure rebounds as they out-rebounded EIU 57-33 for the game. The Tigers’ Samantha Palma and Jayda Johnson both recorded double-doubles with 15 and 21 points respectively.
The first quarter was a very low-scoring defensive battle as each team traded buckets to start the game. A quick five points from Lennox started by free-throws at the 3:38 mark pulled the Panthers ahead with a layup from Erica Brown putting EIU up 10-5 with 29 seconds left in the quarter.
EIU extended their lead in the opening minutes of the second quarter starting the period on a 7-2 run. Carmen Tellez scored her only points of the game at the 6:41 mark as she drained a three-pointer to give the Panthers their largest lead of the game 17-9.
The Tigers answered back with their own 7-2 run to close out the first half sparked by a layup from Johnson with 1:50 left in the second quarter. TSU’s end of the quarter run cut the Panther lead down to 28-27 as the first half came to an end.
Only one shot separated the two teams at halftime as Tennessee State went 11-of-32 in the first half while EIU shot 10-of-30.
The Panthers started the second half right away as Shakita Cox opened the scoring with a three-pointer at the 9:43 mark followed by a steal from Lennox and a quick layup from Brown to give EIU a 33-27 lead. Once again the TSU would answer by going on another 7-2 run to pull the game even 35-35 with 3:32 left in the third quarter.
Tennessee State took the lead following a layup from Johnson to put the Tigers up 39-37 with 55 seconds left in the third quarter. TSU scored the last six points of the period to give the Tigers a 41-37 advantage headed into the final period.
TSU took advantage of cold shooting from the Panthers as EIU only shot 16.7 percent from the field in the third quarter.
The Tigers would not relinquish the lead as TSU opened the fourth quarter with six straight points to lead the Panthers 47-37 with 8:50 left to go in the game. Lennox answered back with a three-pointer to cut the Tiger lead down to seven at the 6:53 mark, but that would be as close as the Panthers got the rest of the game. Lennox scored eight points in the final period to try and quell TSU’s rally. Tennessee State shot 43 percent in the fourth quarter to earn the 62-53 victory.
Brown was the only other Panther to score in double figures fouling out at the 4:27 mark, she finished the game with 12 points and eight rebounds.
EIU continues conference play this Saturday [Jan. 9] at Belmont.