The Ohio University Eastern Panthers men and women's teams saw their seasons come to an end one game short of their goal Saturday in Chillicothe. With both squads navigating their way through last weekend's opening rounds, the Panthers were both rewarded by facing the respective one seeds in the tournament. The Panther women, who were a five seed despite being the ORC Eastern division champions, fell to the ORC West champion, the University of Cincinnati-Clermont. Meanwhile, the fourth seeded Panther men also fell to Miami University-Middletown. Both top seeds finished the regular season undefeated in ORC play.
The Panther women fell by a 75-60 count. After trailing 38-23 at the half, Eastern scored the first 8 of 2nd to close the gap to 38-31. The Panthers put up a good battle until last 4 minutes when the Cougars pulled away. OUE's downfall was the charity stripe as they missed 15 free throws. The Panthers did have balanced scoring, lead by Barnesville's Allie Doan, who had 16. Beallsville's Charity Street had 10, while Savannah Burke added 9 with 12 boards. The Martins Ferry duo of Amber Skvarka and Brittany Burch evenly split 18. Rachel Wildman lead UC-C with 18. The Panther women finish the season 16-5, winning the regular season title for just the 2nd time in school history.
"It was one of those games when we couldn't get over the hump." lamented Panthers boss E.J. Schodzinski. "Poor shooting in the first half was what enabled UC-C to stake themselves to a first half lead. We never gave up. We played fast and furious and cut into the lead and had them on the ropes, but we just couldn't...we just couldn't get closer than 6 or 4, and they held us off. They were just better this year and I tip my hat to them. I really think they may be the best regional conference team I've seen and I am sure they are the deepest. No one plays 12 kids and subs throughout."
Schodzinski continued "Of all of our kids, Allie had the best game. Nobody played their best but everybody played their hardest. Allie is a great athlete with the speed and strength to compete with good teams like that. She is good on the perimeter, on the inside and on d. I'm glad she'll be back for the next three years.
The Panther men fell to Miami-Middletown by a score of 71-52. A full write-up will be available in next week's edition of the Enterprise, as information was not available at press time.