Tennessee-Martin beats Eastern in double OT

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Tennessee-Martin beats Eastern in double OT

Junior Ray Crossland drives in to the lane against Murray State’s Jonathan Stark Thursday, Jan. 12 at Lantz Arena. Crossland led all Panthers with 18 points in the 83-72 OVC loss.

Junior Ray Crossland drives in to the lane against Murray State’s Jonathan Stark Thursday, Jan. 12 at Lantz Arena. Crossland led all Panthers with 18 points in the 83-72 OVC loss.

Justin Brown

Junior Ray Crossland drives in to the lane against Murray State’s Jonathan Stark Thursday, Jan. 12 at Lantz Arena. Crossland led all Panthers with 18 points in the 83-72 OVC loss.

Justin Brown

Justin Brown

Junior Ray Crossland drives in to the lane against Murray State’s Jonathan Stark Thursday, Jan. 12 at Lantz Arena. Crossland led all Panthers with 18 points in the 83-72 OVC loss.

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

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Free throws. Free throws have been hard to come by for the Panthers as of late, something that coach Jay Spoonhour said the Panthers need more of. Well, that did not happen Thursday night, and the Panthers lost to Tennessee-Martin 82-71 in double overtime.

Eastern shot just 11 free throws and connected on eight, but trips to the line were rare. In overtime, junior Ray Crossland was put at the line for a pair of free throws and missed both with a chance to tie the game at 64.

Senior Demetrius McReynolds grabbed one of his nine rebounds to keep the Eastern possession alive ,and luckily for Eastern, junior Muusa Dama was sent back to the line and connected on both free throws to tie it up at 64.

As for Tennessee-Martin, it shot 26 free throws and made 20 of them. Percentage wise, Eastern shot the ball well from the line, shooting 73 percent. But a few more trips to the line and this game could be closer.

Eastern’s largest lead was 13, and towards the end of the game it was back-and-forth. Neither team had more than a two-point lead after the 5:46 mark of the second half. The Panthers led 50-46.

A clutch 3-pointer by the Skyhawks’ Jacolby Molbey put it within one point for the rest of the second half and all throughout the first overtime.

But when the second overtime started, it was all Skyhawks. The two teams, as they became very accustomed to, traded points to open the fourth period. Tennessee-Martin got its score off a layup from Javier Martinez at the 4:42 mark.

Crossland connected on a pair of free throws for the Panthers at 4:23, but for the remaining 4:23, the Skyhawks enjoyed a 16-5 run to close out the game and finally put away the game.

Tennessee-Martin needed just Martinez and Mobley in that run. Martinez scored six of the points and Mobley scored five.

On the bright side for the Panthers, sophomore Patrick Muldoon was almost able to spark the Panther offense, scoring a career high 14 points in 29 minutes played, also a career high. All 14 points came off 2-point jump shots.

Junior Montell Goodwin was close to a season-high as well scoring 20, three short of a season- high mark. And struggles from beyond the arc (1-10) was part of the Panther’s shooting struggles as well.

Goodwin was 9-24 shooting overall.

The Panthers have now lost their last three Ohio Valley Conference games to drop to 1-5 in OVC games, fifth place in the OVC East and one game behind Austin Peay for the fourth spot in the standings.

The time has come for the Panthers to get it all together and have a fully sound game. It’s there, without a doubt, but Eastern cannot afford as many cold stretches throughout a game that they have been facing.

Spoonhour has said in post game press conferences and at practice that the way you score a lot of points is driving to the basket and scoring down low. When that is happening, jump shots and 3-pointers are open.

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