The Ohio University Eastern Panthers had key games Sunday as they hosted the University of Cincinnati Clermont. The Cougar men were the defending Conference Champions, while UCC's women entered their tilt at the OUE Health and Education Center 8-0 in ORC play, leading the Western division. After a pair of spirited games, both visiting squads came out on the positive, with the Panther women being on the short end of a 76-59 score, that was much closer than the final, and the men dropping a 79-73 verdict.
In the lid-lifter, Eastern's women entered at 12-3, 9-2 in their conference, leading the ORC East, while UCC was 18-7 and 8-0 on top of the ORC West. It was slated to be a clash of the titans, and certainly did not disappoint, with the teams not being separated by more than 4 points for the entire first 20 minutes. With the Panthers surrendering the rock 11 times and the Cougars having 7 miscues, the teams were evenly matched. Eastern was fairly balanced in their first half scoring, receiving clutch threes from Barnesville's Allie Doan, Ferry's Brittany Burch, and JM's Chanice Hill. Eastern lead 35-33 at the break with 20 minutes to play.
The second half was still even, but the momentum started to shift nearly four minutes in. Katie Ely hit a shot from the field and the follow up free throw to put UCC up 42-40. Eastern had a chance to take the lead less than a minute later, with Burch getting three free throws, but she would hit just one. After another UCC shot, Doan hit a deuce to keep the lead at one, but that was the last time the Panthers would be that close. The lead was pushed to five, then nine with seven and a half minutes left. The Panthers made a late run, forcing a few turnovers and closed the gap to seven, but could not do anything with the opportunities that they got. Treys by Rachel Brewer and Darlene Carrol seemed to push the game out of reach, as the hosts could not recover, falling by a 76-59 count.
"They outplayed us tonight." stated OUE's EJ. Schodzinski. "They just played a better game, but I think we will see them again." Schodzinski's reference being to the upcoming conference tourney. With two conference games remaining, Eastern could end up anywhere between a two and four seed, depending on the turnout of games at Ohio University Lancaster, and hosting the University of Akron-Wayne.
The Panthers has just two in double figures with Doan netting 17 to go with four assists. Savannah Burke added 13 points, and Charity Street snagged 10 rebounds. Brewer and Carroll evenly divided 22 for the visitors. The Panthers biggest liability on the evening was their free-throw shooting. While the visitors hit at 80% from the charity stripe-16 of 20, the Panthers were only 46%, going 17 of 37.
The men's game started with the visitors jumping on a 9-3 lead in the first two and a half minutes. The Panthers shook off their early slump though to get back into it behind the shooting of Barnesville's Collin Hudson and Caldwell's Jason Shaw. Harrison Central's Dan Milleson, still recovering from a dislocated shoulder, also added a spark off the bench. After a pair of FG's from Milleson, Hudson gave the Panthers their first lead of the game on a deuce at the 12:07 mark. The teams traded buckets for most of the half, but it would be the hot hand of Clermont's Ian Gordon, who nailed three from beyond the arc to end the half to preserve the Cougars 43-39 lead at the break. Gordon netted 22 in the first frame.
The first 10 minutes of the second half was owned by Harrison Central's Dave Barcroft. The sophomore forward was a beast on the inside, as Shaw and Hudson fed him on six buckets inside the paint. Eastern trailed 65-60 at the 10 minute mark, but after a Barcroft bucket, Shaw nailed a three to tie it with just over eight minutes remaining. Eastern still had it tied at 67 after a Pec Shmitt shot, but Gordon, Seth Steele, and Ryan Pope were on fire for the visitors, combining for the team's final 14 points, as they finished on a 12-6 run.
Shaw lead the way for OUE with a double-double, scoring 23 and dishing out 10 assists. Hudson scored 17, and Barcroft finished with 16. Gordon lead all scorers, finishing with 35 for the visitors. OUE has one only home game remaining, with Akron-Wayne invading on Saturday February 7th. The women tip off at 1 pm, while the men tip at 3. Eastern's men also play at Franciscan University of Steubenville Monday February 9th at 7 pm.
Women: Ohio University Eastern 59 University of Cincinnati-Clermont 76
OUE (59): Doan 6 4-6 17; Burch 1 3-5 6; Street 2 0-1 5; Skvarka 3 0-2 6; Hill 1 0-0 3; Benda 0 0-0 0; Carpenter 2 2-10 6; Wamsley 0 0-0 0; Burke 4 5-5 13; Velkovich 1 0-0 2; Team 20 17-37 59.
UCC (76): Rapp 3 1-1 7; Fletcher 3 4-4 10; Carrol 4 2-2 11; Woods 0 1-4 1; Brewer 5 0-0 11; Shipman 3 1-2 7; Bond 0 2-2 2; Johnson 1 0-0 2; David 1 0-0 2; Hawke 2 2-2 6; Ely 3 3-3 9; Team 25 16-20 76.
Three Pointers: OUE 3 (Doan, Burch, Hill) UCC 2 (Carroll, Brewer).
Men: Ohio University Eastern 73 University of Cincinnati Clermont 79
OUE (73): Hudson 6 3-4 17; Perzanowski 0 0-0 0; Milleson 4 1-2 9; Sabatino 0 0-0 0; Tolzda 1 0-2 2; Shaw 8 2-2 23; Barcroft 8 0-2 16; Schmitt 2 0-1 4; Wells 0 0-0 0; Theobald 1 0-0 2; Team 30 6-13 73.
UCC (79): Jones 3 0-0 6; Wilkerson 1 0-0 2; Frazier 4 1-1 9; Gordon 13 5-6 35; Steele 4 2-4 13; Pope 3 4-5 10; Ewbanks 1 0-0 2; Hearn 1 0-0 2; Team 30 12-16 79.
Three Pointers: OUE 7 (Shaw 5, Hudson 2) UCC 7 (Gordon 4, Steele 3).