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Golden Eagle women entertain Eastern Illinois on Monday

Golden Eagle women entertain Eastern Illinois on Monday

By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – With the adrenaline rush subsiding after a big win over Belmont on Saturday, the Tennessee Tech women were back at work in the Eblen Center on Sunday. After all, the most important game is the next one and Eastern Illinois is looking to catch the Golden Eagles off-guard.

The Panthers (8-9, 3-3 OVC) come into the Hoop on Monday night, tipoff scheduled for 6 p.m.

Tyler Brown and Michael Cooper will cover the streaming side of things with the call on ESPN+ (subscription required).

With as exciting and thrilling as it was to knock off conference leader Belmont on Saturday, there's still a lot to do before the conference race is decided. Eastern Illinois has created some matchup mayhem with the Golden Eagles in the past, and while Tech has won the last six meetings against the Panthers, there have been some close games in the mix.

Eastern's three OVC losses – Belmont aside – include close games, dropping a 75-72 defeat at Austin Peay, then an 80-71 loss at home to Murray State. Three days later, however, the Panthers stormed into the CFSB Center and exacted their revenge, beating the Racers 71-64 in overtime. EIU then claimed a 24-point win over Southeast Missouri on Saturday before hitting the road to come to Cookeville.

Make no mistake, the Panthers can score. In OVC play alone, Eastern Illinois is scoring an average of 71.7 points, trailing only Belmont (76.1 ppg). Lariah Washington is scoring above her season average in league play, averaging 16.8 points and 6.0 rebounds in conference competition, while Kira Arthofer is averaging 11.3 points and 5.2 rebounds. Julia Bengtson, the heroine in the win over Murray State, is averaging 9.5 points in OVC play, up from her 8.4 mark overall.

Abby Wahl, still an important piece to the EIU puzzle, is averaging 11.1 points and 5.5 rebounds overall, but has seen her scoring average drop to 8.8 in league play. That said, the competition faced has a lot to do with those numbers.

One thing EIU can do defensively is play speedy and steal the ball, collecting 189 steals on the season and 56 in conference play. The Panthers rank fifth in the league in steals, third in turnover margin and third in assist/turnover ratio. That extends to the offensive side as well as EIU can dish the ball out well, ranking second in the OVC in assists.

The Panthers have gone to the line the third-fewest times in league play, but they can make those shots count, connecting at an .839 rate, the second-best in the conference behind UT Martin (.846).

EIU is also third in 3-pointers made per game at 6.2, trailing Belmont (9.4) and the Golden Eagles (6.4). Washington has made nine of 24 tries in league play, while Morgan Litwiller has eight. Conversely, the Panthers are the second-best 3-point defenders in the conference, holding opponents to a .274 completion rate.

For the Golden Eagles (10-7, 5-2 OVC), four players are scoring in double-figures in conference play as Anna Walker is scoring 12.7 points per game, followed by Mackenzie Coleman (11.6), Jada Guinn (10.7) and Anna Jones (10.4). Among all games, Coleman leads the way with an 11.8-point clip, Jones at 10.7, Guinn at 9.5 and Walker at 8.9.

Tech also ranks second in the league in blocked shots, deflecting 27 in league play and 54 overall. Coleman has 21 total, while Walker has 11.

The quartet is also doing a balanced job of cleaning the glass in league play as Guinn has 6.0 rebounds per game in OVC competition, followed by Jones (5.8), Coleman (4.9) and Walker (4.1). In all games, Jones leads the way with a 6.0 average, pacing Coleman (5.3) and Guinn (5.2).

In league play, Tech is shooting .450 from the field and averaging 69.7 points, while allowing an average of 64.1.

Tickets for Monday's game are on sale now. Call (931) 372-3940, visit the Hooper Eblen Center ticket office or visit TTUsports.com to order.

Photo | Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information

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