Eastern wins big in exhibition game


Justin Brown

Junior guard Montell Goodwin drives into the lane against Eureka's Hank Thomas Sunday at Lantz Arena. The Panthers defeated the Red Devils 94-58 in it's only exhibition game before the season opener Friday against Saint Francis.

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

It may have just been a tune-up game for the Eastern basketball team before its regular season opener Friday, but the Panthers wasted no time in getting their offense going in Sunday’s 94-58 win over Eureka College.

It is a fresh-faced Eastern team this season, but coach Jay Spoonhour was able to get nearly everyone in the game, and most contributed in one way or another.

Eastern’s speed and height helped them in the game as the Panthers were able to outrebound Eureka 51-25, which led to 35 points in the paint and 17 second-chance points.

One thing Spoonhour noted before the season started was that Eastern had lots of speed this season.

That speed was showcased in Eastern’s 15 fast-break points.

In his first game as a Panther, junior college transfer Montell “Silk” Goodwin led the Panthers with 17 points in 26-minutes played.

Goodwin also brought down six rebounds in the contest.

What also stood out for Eastern was having four players in double-digit points. Junior transfer Ray Crossland had 12 points, junior transfer Muusa Dama had 14 and senior Demetrius McReynolds scored 10. Sophomores Lucas Jones and Casey Teson each had 9 points.

“It’s going to be really balanced all year,” Goodwin said. “It’s not just about scoring. It’s about defense and winning games.”

Eureka came out firing in the start of the second half, hitting three 3-poiners to open it up and cut Eastern’s lead to six points after the Panthers closed out the first half with a 45-30 lead.

Eastern used some steals and blocks to regain its lead, and continued to run away with the game.

And there were times throughout the game where Eastern’s unfamiliarity with each other showed, but for the most part things were clicking.

“We just had to get used to playing with each other,” Goodwin said. “It was the first game so we had to get our jitters out and everything.”

But when Eureka cut the lead to 10 points with nine minutes left in the game, Eastern went on a 20-3 run over the next five minutes to put the game completely out of reach.

The big reason why Eureka was still able to hang in the game despite Eastern forcing 24 turnovers, is that Eureka was able to hit the 3-pointers and Eastern was not.

The usually sound Eastern 3-point game was cold all night, shooting 5-21 beyond the arc and Eureka was 10-23.

And when Eastern’s lead was slowly slipping away, its defense stepped up and turned things around.

“It went from 10 to a 24 (point lead) really fast,” Spoonhour said. “And it can do that, when your defense creates offense it can turn around quick. The thing you have to be careful with is that you don’t fall in love with stealing the ball. Because then you’re not sound.”

Spoonhour said the same thing about “falling in love” with blocking shots.

Dama had a huge block, but it was a bad play leading up to it and with a Dama vs. anyone shorter than 6 feet 9 inches, Dama is gonna get a block, just as Eureka’s guard found out.

Eastern’s regular season will get underway Friday when the Panthers host Saint Francis in Lantz Arena.

Sean Hastings can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].