Bench sparks Panthers’ rally over Ball State


Kevin Hall

Trae Anderson, a forward, attempts to look for an open man in the game against Ball State University in Lantz Arena.

Blake Nash, Staff Reporter

It was a tale of two halves at Lantz Arena on Wednesday, but the Eastern men’s basketball team was able to erase a 24-18 halftime deficit, for a 61-54 win over Ball State.

The Panthers were cold from 3-point range at halftime, going 0-for-6, but LeTrell “Snoop” Viser changed all that with a three during a 14-2 run to give the Panthers their first lead of the game at 29-26. He then added another 3-pointer in the next possession, giving the Panthers a six-point advantage.

Viser finished with nine points, all on threes, but said after the game that the Panthers need to start games better in the future.

“We’ve just got to execute and come out with a sense of urgency,” Viser said. “We’ll pick that up and correct it in practice.”

Eastern ended the first half scoring 18 points, making 6-of-24 of its field goals.

Viser came into the game as a substitute, as well as forward Chris Olivier, who finished with 16 points and seven rebounds. Eastern coach Jay Spoonhour said after the game that the Panthers are still trying to find consistent play to determine the starting lineup in the future.

Seniors Reggie Smith and Josh Piper combined for 10 minutes of action, despite starting the game for the Panthers. Smith never re-entered the game after playing the first three minutes. Consistency from the players has been an issue for the Panthers lately, Spoonhour following the come from behind win Wednesday night.

“We can’t get guys to play at a consistent basis,” Spoonhour said. “I would like to find five guys that can do what they’re going to give you every time you go out there.”

Spoonhour also said that he was proud of how the Panthers continued to battle after a dismal first half, which saw the Panthers hit only 25 percent from the field.

“We did a good job, especially when Chris got in there – he played great,” Spoonhour said. “He puts guys at ease a little bit because he can get a good look every time.”

Olivier and Viser combined for 25 of the Panthers’ 38 bench points in their second straight win.

Fellow forward Trae Anderson was the Panthers’ leading scorer and rebounder with 13 points and 11 rebounds for a double-double. He even had a brief stint at point guard, when he subbed in for Dylan Chatman.

“I’ve played a little bit of point guard in the past,” Anderson said laughing. 

Viser’s rhythm throughout the second half carried him to 3-for-5 from behind the 3-point line.

“Sometimes the shot just looks right,” Spoonhour said. “When you don’t think it’s a good shot, or if you don’t think it’s going to go in, it’s not.”

The Panthers will now travel on the road to California-Davis, which defeated the Panthers two weeks ago 63-61.

“We’ve got to execute down the stretch more, sit down and guard better,” Viser said.

Blake Nash can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].