Panthers win 8th straight after upset over Colonels

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Panthers win 8th straight after upset over Colonels

Chris Olivier, a junior forward, looks to pass the ball after the defense arrives in the game Sat. against Belmont in Lantz Arena.

Chris Olivier, a junior forward, looks to pass the ball after the defense arrives in the game Sat. against Belmont in Lantz Arena.

Kevin Hall

Chris Olivier, a junior forward, looks to pass the ball after the defense arrives in the game Sat. against Belmont in Lantz Arena.

Kevin Hall

Kevin Hall

Chris Olivier, a junior forward, looks to pass the ball after the defense arrives in the game Sat. against Belmont in Lantz Arena.

Blake Nash, Staff Reporter

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Trae Anderson’s injured ankle may have slowed him down on Saturday, but the 6-4 junior showed that he has made a solid recovery after he and the Eastern men’s basketball team defeated the Eastern Kentucky Colonels 72-65 on Thursday night in a battle of the Ohio Valley Conference ‘s divisional leaders.

Anderson compiled 14 points for the Panthers and displayed great ball-handling skills to aid the Panthers, who shot nearly 54 percent from the floor, in route to their eighth consecutive victory and a 5-0 record in the OVC. The Panthers remain in first place in the OVC’s West division with the victory.

The Colonels, who trailed for most of the night, rallied throughout the second half and were able to close the gap to 63-61, until a three pointer by LeTrell Viser gave the Panthers some breathing room with 1:33 remaining.

Anderson, Cornell Johnston and LeTrell Viser led the Panthers scoring, with both Viser and Johnston finishing with 10 points apiece. Eastern Kentucky’s Corey Walden led the Colonels with 29 points, while fellow guard Ja’Mill Powell totaled 13 points, eight of which came from the free throw line.

Johnston led the Panthers with four assists, while Anderson and Dylan Chatman had three.

Both Anderson and fellow forward Chris Olivier combined for 14 rebounds for the Panthers, who came out on top in that category for the first time since November.

The Panthers, who led by as much as 18 against Belmont on Saturday, continued that trend when they led by as much as 15 against the Colonels, who were 3-0 in OVC play heading into this matchup. Chatman, who had been 0-for his last nine heading into the game, hit three from beyond the arc for nine points, while the Panthers as a team hit 11-of-19 shots from beyond the arc.

The Panthers also ended another drought, by ending a 10 game losing streak at Eastern Kentucky, who won the OVC Tournament last season and advanced to the NCAA tournament.

The Colonels, one of the top defenses in the country forced the Panthers into committing 18 points, but coach Jay Spoonhour thought the Panthers handled the ball well, especially during the Colonels’ late surge.

“We’re still not used to being up that much, but aside from making a few silly mistakes, I thought we handled the ball well, considering how good of a defense Eastern Kentucky has,” Spoonhour said.

Defensively, Luke Piotrowski posted three blocks, while Anderson and Olivier combined for nine rebounds on the defensive glass. Spoonhour said he was also impressed with the effort of Dylan Chatman, who guarded Walden for most of the game.

“Dylan did a great job on Walden,” Spoonhour said. “Even though Walden got 29 points, he did a good job of containing him and isolating him from his teammates.”

The Panthers are now off to their best start in any conference they’ve played in in the program’s history. They’ll look to make it nine in a row at Morehead State on Saturday at 1:00 p.m.

 

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