Loss to Southeast Missouri puts Eastern in a hole


Justin Brown

Eastern coach Jay Spoonhour contests a call late in the Panthers’ 83-72 loss to Murray State Thursday, Jan. 12 at Lantz Arena.

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

Coach Jay Spoonhour did not say the team is panicking after falling to 1-6 in Ohio Valley Conference play following an 83-71 loss to Southeast Missouri, but did say they have some work to do.

With as new a team the Panthers had, it was expected that it would take some time for everyone to get familiar with the system and playing with each other, but it did not seem like it would take this long. There’s not much time for them to figure it out anymore.

Eastern made it to the OVC tournament last year at 9-7, but the mistakes the Panthers made at the beginning of the year are still popping up, Spoonhour said.

“We have dug ourselves quite a hole,” Spoonhour said. “It’s going to take some awful good play to get ourselves out. Mistakes that hurt us early in the year are still biting us at times.”

And unfortunately for the Panthers, the road ahead will not be an easy one. Eastern will welcome in the OVC’s top team, Belmont, Wednesday, which is 7-0 in OVC play.

And a win against a 3-3 Southeast Missouri could have provided a little bit of padding moving forward with the rest of conference play, but instead Eastern dropped its fourth in a row.

Eastern and Southeast Missouri were trading baskets to start the game, and even though it was still really early, Eastern led 11-9, but the Redhawks went on a 14-2 run and never let up the lead.

The Panthers were able to clean up a few things such as driving to the basket, drawing fouls and scoring down low. But while they cleaned that up, Eastern turned the ball over 18 times leading to 24 points by SEMO.

The Panthers have averaged 12. 8 turnovers per game this season, and have turned it over 24 times in the last two games, including 16 times in a double overtime loss to Tennessee-Martin.

“We did a much better job of attacking the rim,” Spoonhour said. “But we also turned it over far too often and many of the turnovers led directly to points.”

Eastern has nine more games left this season, and as far as going to the OVC tournament goes, the Panthers can at max lose two more games for a tournament bid.

In the last 4 seasons, 9-loss teams have made their way to Nashville for the OVC tournament and the Panthers are at 1-6 behind Austin Peay (3-4).

Three-pointers are not all what the game is about and senior Demetrius McReynolds is proving that. Of his 32 points against Austin Peay, only nine came from the 3-ball. And again Saturday, he scored 19 points and he hit just one 3-pointer.

Even though Spoonhour has wanted the team to make plays down low to try and score and get to the line that way.

He has also mentioned that the Panthers’ shooters need to hit the open shots when they have them.

Eastern was 5-22 from beyond the arc.

There is not magic formula to have the shots to start falling, but sooner or later Eastern will need to find a way to get shots to fall, and sooner the better if they need to get out this “hole.”

Eastern will host Belmont Wednesday.

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