Panthers survive against Morehead State

Junior+Chris+Olivier+faces+off+against+Northern+Illinois%27+Jordan+Threloff+during+the+Panthers%27+59-55+win+against+the+Huskies+on+Dec.+13+at+Lantz+Arena.++Olivier+scored+six+points+during+the+Panthers+65-62+win+over+Morehead+State+on+Saturday+in+Morehead%2C+Ky.
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Panthers survive against Morehead State

Junior Chris Olivier faces off against Northern Illinois' Jordan Threloff during the Panthers' 59-55 win against the Huskies on Dec. 13 at Lantz Arena.  Olivier scored six points during the Panthers 65-62 win over Morehead State on Saturday in Morehead, Ky.

Junior Chris Olivier faces off against Northern Illinois' Jordan Threloff during the Panthers' 59-55 win against the Huskies on Dec. 13 at Lantz Arena. Olivier scored six points during the Panthers 65-62 win over Morehead State on Saturday in Morehead, Ky.

Jason Howell

Junior Chris Olivier faces off against Northern Illinois' Jordan Threloff during the Panthers' 59-55 win against the Huskies on Dec. 13 at Lantz Arena. Olivier scored six points during the Panthers 65-62 win over Morehead State on Saturday in Morehead, Ky.

Jason Howell

Jason Howell

Junior Chris Olivier faces off against Northern Illinois' Jordan Threloff during the Panthers' 59-55 win against the Huskies on Dec. 13 at Lantz Arena. Olivier scored six points during the Panthers 65-62 win over Morehead State on Saturday in Morehead, Ky.

Blake Nash, Staff Reporter

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The Eastern men’s basketball team won its ninth straight game Saturday, 65-62, over Morehead State in Morehead, Ky.

The Panthers, who were led by freshman guard Cornell Johnston’s 22 points, improved to 12-6 overall and a perfect 6-0 in the Ohio Valley Conference. Eastern also set the school’s Division 1 record for consecutive wins.

“My team’s always telling me to stay confident and keep attacking,” Johnston said. “That’s what I did, because we needed it.”

Johnston’s 22 points are a season-high for the freshman, who was also a perfect 4-for-4 from three-point range.

Eastern coach Jay Spoonhour said Johnston’s ability to win overshadows his size.

“Size has never been a big deal for me,” Spoonhour said. “Cornell just flat out wins, and he’s been doing that for a long time. He also helps make everyone better people around him.”

Johnston also had three assists for the Panthers trailing only fellow guard in senior Dylan Chatman. Chatman finished with four assists to go along with nine points, all of which came on threes.

Johnston said he isn’t one to pay attention to stats.

“I just go out there and play and do whatever I can to help our team get the ‘W’,” Johnston said.

After being down 25-19 at halftime, the Eagles started the second half on a 19-5 run and led for the majority of the second half until the five minute mark.

A free throw from junior forward Trae Anderson and a defensive stop on the other end, and a dunk from junior guard LeTrell Viser gave the Panthers their first lead of the half.

The Eagles would tie the game shortly after, but would never regain the lead, as the Panthers kept their perfect OVC record intact.

As a team, the Panthers forced 12 Eagles’ turnovers and were able to convert that into seven points.

“We take a lot of pride in our defense,” Anderson said. “We try to stay focused and locked in on what we do on defense and try to outperform the other team,”

Senior Guard Reggie Smith was the only other player to reach double digit points for the Panthers, finishing with 11 points and six rebounds. Seven of those points came in the second half, in which he grabbed three rebounds.

The Eagles were led by center Billy Reader and guard Brent Arrington, who finished with 16 points each. Karam Mashour and Corban Collins followed with 12 points each.

Mashour also led Morehead State with eight rebounds.

As a team the Panthers shot 52.4 percent from the floor, despite shooting 39.1 percent in the first half.

They were able to improve in the second half, hitting 68.4 percent of their shots.

The win sets up a conference clash with West divisional foe Murray State, who is also a perfect 5-0 in OVC play and the game will be nationally televised on CBS Sports Network at 8 p.m. Thursday in Lantz Arena.

 

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