Column: 3-point shooting falters in OT loss to Bradley

Maher Kawash, Basketball Reporter

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Sophomore forward Patrick Muldoon hauls in one of his two rebounds Tuesday against Bradley at Lantz Arena. The Panthers record moved to 4-3 after the 87-83 loss to the visiting Braves.

Justin Brown
Sophomore forward Patrick Muldoon hauls in one of his two rebounds Tuesday against Bradley at Lantz Arena. The Panthers record moved to 4-3 after the 87-83 loss to the visiting Braves.

In basketball there is a relatively known phrase that says a team can live by the three or die by the three, and for the Eastern men’s basketball team it was the ladder that led to an overtime downfall.

With Bradley in town for a midweek affair, the Panthers had a shot to keep their undefeated home record alive until 25 percent shooting from deep proved to be the difference in an 87-83 loss.

Eastern was down in the first half and almost all of their points came inside the arch as the team knocked down just three of its 11 3-pointers to start.

“It was a combination of them playing really hard on defensive and trying to get us out of our offensive sets,” junior Cornell Johnston said.

Eastern’s offensive sets relied on the paint where the Panthers found 31 points as well as 29 points off Bradley’s turnovers.

Adjustments were made offensively in the second half, but none behind the arch as the Panthers only got worse by making just 20 percent of their 3-pointers to end the game.

The struggles from deep were apparent throughout for Eastern, but perhaps clearest when Montell Goodwin had a chance to hit the game-winning shot as time expired in regulation.

But like many other 3-pointers from the Panthers Tuesday night, it rattled off the rim and sent the game to overtime with both teams tied at 72.

Eastern’s slow start in overtime allowed Bradley to jump out to a big lead until senior Demetrius McReynolds broke the trend from deep.

The inconsistency behind the arch had a chance to disappear for the Panthers as McReynolds knocked down a three to bring Eastern within two with 42 seconds left on the clock.

But Bradley’s adjustments proved to be too much for the Panthers and limited Eastern’s offense.

“They guarded us hard and forced us into the shots we took,” Spoonhour said.

Eastern did not struggle completely on offense as a team, mustering out 40 percent shooting from the field while scoring more than 80 points for the third time this season.

The Panthers offense is best when the athleticism is present in juniors Goodwin, Ray Crossland and Muusa Dama.

That was clear in the second half when Dama slammed home an alley-oop to seemingly give the Panthers all the momentum they needed.

But in the end, Eastern’s struggles from deep were fatal and sends the Panthers to now turning their focus to Illinois-Chicago this weekend.

Maher Kawash can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]