Panthers face Saint Louis for second straight road game


Sean Hastings

Junior Ray Crossland attempts to shield the passing lanes with his hand while defending a St. Francis (Ill) player Friday at Lantz Arena.

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

Three games into the season, the Panthers (1-1) have had more ups than downs, and the fight the Panthers showed in the second half of Tuesday’s game proved that.

After watching Eastern’s exhibition game against Eureka and regular season home opener, the first half of the Panthers’ game against Troy was uncharacteristic.

The Panthers will hit the road to take on Saint Louis Thursday night.

Eastern strong shooting helped lessened the blow of the 10 turnovers committed in the first half. But the Panthers and sophomore Casey Teson plan to change things up to stay on track.

Coach Jay Spoonhour said the Panthers cannot be reliant on shooting 3-pointers.

Shooting the 3-ball is what Teson brought to the team last year and is where he shines, but is willing to do what he needs to do to help the offense.

“I mean, my team will always rely on me to knock down open shots and not just 3’s, but playing off the bounce a little too, just so it opens the floor more for our other shooters,” Teson said.

The Saint Louis Billikens (1-1)are coming in off a win over Southern Utah. In the Billikens exhibition game against Greenville, they won 124-85.

Randy Onwuasor dominated for the Billikens scoring 20 points and recording 13 rebounds. Jacob Calloway also contributed with 19 points and seven rebounds.

Teson said the Panthers have a lot of shooters on the team. Junior guard Cornell Johnston, junior guard Montell Goodwin, senior forward Demetrius McReynolds are just three of the strong shooters Eastern has.

But getting the ball down low and finding a balance with the shots might be the key to having success.

“A few things we need to focus on is getting the ball to the rim a little more and not relying on our jump shots so much,” Teson said.

Johnston said heading into the Saint Francis game that the team was already building a good chemistry and even with the new faces on the team, the Panthers have already had strings of success.

McReynolds connected with junior newcomer Muusa Dama for a perfect alley-oop that kept the excitement up in Eastern’s dominating performance over the Fighting Saints.

There’s still some time until the Panthers start playing Ohio Valley Conference teams, but this is gearing up Eastern to make a run for that title.

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