Panthers face Bruins in OVC quarterfinal

Blake Nash, Staff Reporter

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NASHVILLE, Tenn.—The Eastern men’s basketball team will take on Belmont in the quarterfinals of the Ohio Valley Conference tournament on Thursday at 8 p.m. at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium.

The sixth seeded Panthers advanced after defeating Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Wednesday and will look to move on in the tournament when they face the Bruins in their hometown of Nashville.

Despite the matchup being only five miles from the Belmont campus, Eastern coach Jay Spoonhour is not worried about the game’s location because he believes the Panthers have played well on the road this season.

“We’re .500 overall on the road in the league, and our guys have done better than most,” Spoonhour said. “If you’re playing against the crowd, you change the way you play because you can get crazy.”

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.

Spoonhour also said that everybody still has to go do their jobs, and the surroundings don’t mean anything.

That rang true Thursday afternoon as the Panthers held a practice session in their hotel lobby. Shoot around was cancelled Thursday morning, so the Panthers had to resort to other locations to prepare for their matchup with the Bruins.

“There weren’t really many places to have practice, with most of town shut down,” Spoonhour said.

An overnight snow storm made it more difficult for the Panthers to find a practice facility. Nashville was hit with 2-to-4 inches of snow on Wednesday night, making the roads very slushy and difficult to travel in some places.

Freshman point guard Cornell Johnston enjoyed the unusual practice facility that was used for preparation of that night’s game.

“That was a lot of fun. We accomplished a lot,” Johnston said.

Spoonhour said the Panthers prepared to work on defending the Bruins’ shooting game, which is one of top offenses in the OVC. The Bruins average 75.6 points per game, which is second in the OVC. They’ll face an Eastern team that boasts one of the best defenses, allowing an average of 65.1 points per game.

“We’ve got to know what to defend, which is their ability to shoot,” Spoonhour said. “We’ve just got one day to do that, and I think we have the guys who can do it.”

Thursday’s game can be seen on the OVC Digital Network at approximately 8 p.m. Eastern’s game will follow the men’s quarterfinal matchup of Morehead State vs Tennessee-Martin.

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