Hot shooting sinks Panthers

Blake Nash, Staff Reporter

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The Eastern men’s basketball team fell to hot-shooting Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Saturday night, 80-63, in Edwardsville, Ill.

The Cougars were 19-for-30 from the field, for a shooting average of 63.33 percent in the first half and led 45-27.

Edwardsville finished hitting 56 percent from the floor, going 32-for-57 for the game.

Eastern, on the other hand, struggled shooting the ball in the first half, missing on three of their first four possessions, leading to a 33.3 percent average at halftime. However, the Panthers’ shooting improved in the second half as they shot 62 percent from the floor and began the second half on a 9-0 run.

Rozell Nunn ended the early Panther run with eight-straight points, pushing the Cougars’ lead to 50-36. The Panthers would cut the lead down to ten points after back-to-back layups by LeTrell Viser and Chris Olivier, who made his return following two weeks of illness.

That would be the last time the Panthers got within 10 points on Saturday night.

Senior Dylan Chatman was the Panthers’ leading scorer finishing with 15 points. All of his points came from three pointers. He also had two assists as well as four rebounds.

Fellow senior Reggie Smith followed with 11 points, as did forward Trae Anderson. Olivier had nine points, which included going 4-of-6 from the field. He also recorded two blocks in his return.

Four out of the starting five Cougar players reached double-figure points.

Michael Messer led the way for the Cougars hitting 8-of-12 shots from the floor to finish with 23 points. He was also 3-of-4 from three-point range. Nunn followed with 18 points, four rebounds and two steals. Forwards Kris Davis and Keaton Jackson followed with 11 and 10 points, respectively, and came down with seven rebounds, apiece.

Messer and Nunn were able to reach double-figure scoring in the first half with 15 and 10, respectively.

The Cougars made their presence felt in the paint recording 40 points and outrebounding the Panthers, 35-22, on the boards.

The Cougars started the game on a 14-2 run and following layups by Viser and Olivier, went on a 14-3 run. Edwardsville led from start to finish and posted a game-high 22-point lead with 4:31 left in the half after a dunk by Jackson made it, 75-53.

Both teams made eight three pointers, with Chatman hitting five for Eastern. He was the only Panther to hit more than one, while Nunn and Messer each hit three of their own.

The loss dropped the Panthers to 8-4 in OVC play and 15-11 overall.

A victory by Tennessee-Martin over Austin Peay also on Saturday dropped the Panthers to third place in the OVC West Division standings. Eastern will face three members of the West Division in the next two weeks. They’ll begin that stretch against Tennessee-Martin at 7 p.m. Thursday at Lantz Arena in Charleston. The game will be broadcasted on the American Sports Network.

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