Eastern continues road trip at Northern Kentucky

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

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Junior guard Montell Goodwin passes to a teammate during the Panthers' 87-83 overtime loss to Bradley Nov. 29 in Lantz Arena. The Panthers will travel to take on Northern Kentucky Wednesday.

Justin Brown
Junior guard Montell Goodwin passes to a teammate during the Panthers’ 87-83 overtime loss to Bradley Nov. 29 in Lantz Arena. The Panthers will travel to take on Northern Kentucky Wednesday.

The Panthers are just five games away from starting their conference schedule and are fresh of a big road win against Illinois-Chicago on Sunday.

Junior Muusa Dama and sophomore Patrick Muldoon both had foul trouble throughout the game, but sophomore Aboubacar Diallo stepped up and grabbed 14 rebounds in the win.

Eastern’s road trip will continue at Northern Kentucky Wednesday.

Northern Kentucky is 5-3 to start the season including a win against OVC opponent Morehead State Nov. 30.

Eastern has found success at home this season at 4-1, but it will have only one more opportunity to play in Lantz Arena before the games start to really mean something.

Eastern’s first OVC game is New Year’s Eve against Jacksonville State.

Northern Kentucky is 1-1 at home and 3-1 on the road, and much of its success has come from the play of Drew McDonald, who has averaged 20.5 points per game through the first eight games.

Not only does McDonald lead the team in scoring, he also leads the team in rebounds with 69. He is also second on the team in assists behind Lavone Holland II, who has 34.

The Panthers faced a similar situation Sunday at Illinois-Chicago having to try and shut down Dikembe Dixson, which the Panthers did. He averages 22.6 points per game, and Eastern held him to just 10 points on Sunday.

Eastern won 90-76, and being able to shut down Dixson the way it did, may have been a deciding factor.

This season, junior guard Cornell Johnston has been able to see a few minutes of rest; a rarity it 2015.

Johnston has done a good job this season running the offense and setting up other players for a bucket, with 30 assists on the season.

Scoring has came second to Johnston, since last year, the offense ran primarily through Trae Anderson, and this year everyone can score on the team and the Panthers have four players who average double-digit scoring each game.

Johnston averages five fewer minutes than what he finished the season with last year, and the rest he has had early on may have finally made the impact he and coach Jay Spoonhour have hoped for.

Johnston led all scorers with 21 points in 35 minutes played Sunday and dished out nine assists as well, one assist shy of a double-double.

Eastern and Northern Kentucky will tip off at 6 p.m. in Highland Heights, Ky., and then the Panthers will have two days of rest before heading to Macomb to take on Western.

Eastern will have a week off before playing three games in five days against Western, Fontbonne University and Indiana State before getting to go home for a couple days and celebrate Christmas with their families.

The Panthers will have 10 days off before opening OVC play Dec. 31.

The Panthers made the OVC tournament last year but ran into a tough Murray State team in the first round ending their season.

Eastern is off to a better start overall this season compared to last year, and it has the team confident.

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