Panthers fall to Braves in overtime


Justin Brown

Senior Demetrius McReynolds goes up for a layup Tuesday against Bradley at Lantz Arena. McReynolds led all scorers with 25 in the Panthers 87-83 loss to the Braves.

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

When junior Montell Goodwin found junior Muusa Dama for a big alley-oop that sent Lantz Arena up for grabs, it seemed like the momentum could not be stirred away from the Panthers.

And just two minutes before that, junior Ray Crossland chased down and saved a loose ball at the baseline before firing it behind his back to a cutting Patrick Muldoon for the layup to give Eastern a three-point lead. Following Muldoon’s free throw, the lead  was 56-52.

But the Bradley Braves found a way to recover from 24 turnovers and come away with an 87-83 win in overtime. Bradley tied it up at 72 with 23 seconds left in regulation and on the ensuing possession, Goodwin’s buzzer-beater shot rimmed out.

Bradley jumped out to a five-point lead to start overtime and Eastern would only cut it to a two-point deficit with 42 seconds left.

At the end of the day, it was not what Eastern did, it is how Bradley played and forced the Panthers to take bad shots.

Eastern scored 29 points off the 24 turnovers, but Coach Jay Spoonhour said the game is more than just forcing a turnover.

“Forcing turnovers is fine but we have to be more sound than we were tonight,” Spoonhour said. “It can’t be a turnover or a layup and we’ve got to figure that out. Guys get to thinking it’s so great to turn them over; it isn’t what the game is all about.”

Eastern was able to force all those turnovers, but down low it was too easy for Bradley as they scored 44 points in the paint and outrebounded Eastern 53-30.

Spoonhour said it was a “flip of a coin” as to who was going to get the rebound, but a lot of the times Eastern was not in position to get the boards.

To start the game, and in parts later on, Bradley ran past the Eastern guards on their way to a layup. The Panther big men had to help out and when they missed, Dama, Crossland, or whoever was helping were going up for a block, and it left Bradley players alone to get the rebound.

Or when the layup was not there for Bradley, they kicked it out to an open player in the corner for a 3-pointer. Bradley was 5-12 from beyond the arc.

And Eastern was 5-22 and had a case of some bad shot selection.

“We were trying to make plays early on in the shot clock and instead of waiting for it to come to us,” junior Cornell Johnston said.

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