Eastern defeats Oakland in first round of CIT

Blake Nash, Staff Reporter

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The Eastern men’s basketball team defeated Oakland, 97-91, in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament for the program’s first Division I postseason win.

Junior forward Trae Anderson attempts a shot during the Panthers' 97-64 loss to the Belmont Bruins in round two of the Ohio Valley Conference tournament on Thursday in Nashville, Tenn.  Anderson scored 13 points for the Panthers.

Jason Howell
Junior forward Trae Anderson attempts a shot during the Panthers’ 97-64 loss to the Belmont Bruins in round two of the Ohio Valley Conference tournament on Thursday in Nashville, Tenn.  Anderson scored 13 points for the Panthers.

Anderson and Smith also had five and six rebounds, respectively, while senior Mat Piotrowski pulled down six for the Panthers as well.

Smith and Chatman hit eight of the Panthers 3-pointers, with Smith saying afterwards that his confidence began to grow after hitting his first one of the game.

“Once I seen the first shot go in my confidence went on another level,” Smith said. “I just felt that I could make anything I shot out there.”

Smith was 4-for-11 from beyond the arc and 7-for-17 from the floor.

“We knew that they were an 80-point team, so it was going to be high-scoring,” Smith said. “We just had to go out there and compete with them.”

Eastern coach Jay Spoonhour was also pleased by the duo’s effort when defending Oakland guard Kahlil Felder. Felder finished with 37 points and 11 assists and nearly came out with a triple-double, finishing with eight rebounds.

“Dylan and Reggie had him for quite a bit, and that was hard work,” Spoonhour said. “I wasn’t really going to take them out, because they were doing a good job.”

Eastern started four of their five seniors on Tuesday, including: Mat Piotrowski, Keenen Anderson, Smith and Chatman. Forward Josh Piper came in as a substitute and hit three 3-point shots to give him nine for the night.

Eastern’s seniors combined for 56 of the Panthers 97 points with Piotrowski adding four in his starting lineup debut for this season.

“If you’re a senior and you only have one game left to play in your life, you don’t want to do it guarding,” Spoonhour said.

Chatman, who has been praised by Spoonhour for his defense this season, was 6-of-8 from the floor, including 4-of-6 from three-point range. He also finished off an alley-oop with 7:06 to play in the second half, something he said he does all the time in practice, but never in a game.

“When you and your teammates are hitting shots like we did, it lets you know we’re clicking and don’t have to count on one person to make buckets,” Chatman said. “We played freely tonight, because we don’t have anything to lose.”

Spoonhour said the Panthers have been good throughout the season when Smith and Chatman were shooting the ball well.

“We haven’t shot it like that all year, but guys are capable of doing it,” Spoonhour said. “Dylan and Reggie haven’t always had it going at the same time, but those were some big, big shots.”

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