The Eastern men’s basketball team ended a two-game road trip in Indiana with a 73-56 loss to Ball State. The Panthers went into halftime trailing 36-32, and began to lose control in the second half when the Cardinals grabbed a 43-33 lead.
Ball State extended that lead to 12 later on, following a put-back layup by Bo Calhoun. The Cardinals had three players reach double figure scoring, while the Panthers had two because of freshman guard AJ Riley and senior forward Trae Anderson.
Riley led the Panthers with 21 points, while Anderson had 20. Riley also led the team with seven rebounds, along with fellow freshman Patrick Muldoon and Lucas Jones.
Ball State’s leading scorer was Bo Calhoun, who came off the bench and finished with 15 points. The Cardinals bench outscored Eastern’s 36-8 for the entire game. Sophomore Sean Sellers scored 13 points and sophomore Francis Kiapway finished with 12, to round out the Cardinals top scorers.
The Panthers have one of the newest rosters in the NCAA, with nine newcomers, Eastern coach Jay Spoonhour said that the players that are returning need to start playing better, especially with rebounding the ball.
“Trae had 20 points, but our problem right now is rebounding the ball, and he got two,” Spoonhour said. “That’s the hard part about being a good player, is that you’ve got to do everything.”
On the other side of the court, the Cardinals two leading scorers Calhoun and Sellers had 12 and 10 rebounds, apiece, giving them both a double-double in their first win of the season. Eastern outrebounded the Cardinals on the offensive glass 19-18.
The Panthers were able to grab the lead with a 6-0 run halfway through the first half. Freshman forward Patrick Muldoon hit a 15-foot jumper, while Anderson and sophomore point guard Cornell Johnston both hit a pair of free throws during the run.
Despite the 0-2 start to the season, Spoonhour said that the Panthers are still a confident group.
“The spirit they got is really good,” Spoonhour said. “They just need to perform better that’s all.”
As for the Panthers new faces, Spoonhour said that even though they are struggling in areas they do very well, they are doing good in other areas. For instance freshman shooting guard Casey Teson, has been effective following his defensive assignments.
“Casey can shoot the ball, and he’s having a hard time finding his way right now,” Spoonhour said. “He’s doing his best defense on the guards, which is helping him find his way onto the court.”
Teson had no points, but had four rebounds and two assists.
The Panthers did find more ways to make it to the free throw line on Monday. Eastern was 19-of-27 from the line, with Anderson shooting 8-of-11 from the line. Eastern shot only two free throws last Friday at Indiana, and made two of them.
Eastern shot 32.7 percent from the field, and hit 5-of-18 of its shots from three-point range.
The Panthers will be back in action Saturday at 6 p.m. for their home opener. Western Illinois, which defeated No. 17 Wisconsin last weekend, will be the Panthers opponent for that game. The Leathernecks are 2-0 after victories over the Badgers and Hannibal-LeGrange.
“They were really, really efficient at Wisconsin,” Spoonhour said. “I guarantee that every team that plays us is going to say ‘we can rebound on these guys.’ That’s exactly what Western Illinois will do.”
Blake Nash can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]