Belmont to serve as test for Eastern

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

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It’s not completely do or die for the Panthers against Belmont, but a seventh loss in OVC play will put Eastern in an even bigger hole and winning out the rest of its games may be in the cards for an OVC tournament berth.

There have been a few things the Panthers have, or have not been able to do this season that have put them in the position they are in. It’s been turnovers, cold shooting, fouling too much and on the contrary, not getting fouled enough.

Eastern has far too good of shooters to be shooting the way they are beyond the arc. Sophomore Casey Teson and junior Montell Goodwin have shown that when they are on, they are on.

For example, against Austin Peay, the Panthers shot 7-27, a number of shots that Coach Jay Spoonhour was OK with, because they were open looks, but they need to get their open shots to fall more often.

But Spoonhour and the team is confident they can get out of this “hole.”

“One of the main things coach has been saying is that we are (going to) get out of this because of how hard we work and all of us believe in that and we all know we have to stick together as a team,” Teson said.

Belmont has won each of its OVC contests by more than 10 points in five out of its seven wins.

Teson said the key to the game will be focusing on defense and not giving up any open shots throughout the game.

Austin Peay played the Bruins close, losing by just five points.

Belmont is the top team in the OVC with a perfect 7-0 record. The Bruins lead the East over Jacksonville State, which is 5-2.

Eastern:

The Panthers started OVC play 0-2, but got back into the win column with a win over Eastern Kentucky, but since then it has been downhill.

Eastern has lost four games in a row now and a few of them have slipped out of the Panthers hands.

Austin Peay defeated the Panthers in Lantz Arena Jan. 14, despite a 32-point performance from senior Demetrius McReynolds.

Another loss that stands out is the Panthers’ 82-71 double overtime loss to Tennessee-Martin the following game.

The two were neck-and-neck for much of the latter part of the game and throughout the first overtime, but the Skyhawks turned it up a notch in the second overtime and took over the game on Eastern.

Eastern’s latest loss was an 83-71 loss to Southeast Missouri Saturday.

Coach Jay Spoonhour said after Saturday’s loss the Eastern is continuing to make the same mistakes they made in the beginning of the year and it has put them in “quite a hole.”

A bright spot for the Panthers in the last two games has been the play of sophomore Patrick Muldoon. Muldoon has had back-to-back double figure scoring games. He scored 14 against Tennessee-Martin and 10 against SEMO.

The Panthers will remain at home on Saturday to take on Southern Illinois Edwardsville, before heading onto the road again.

Tip off is set for 7 p.m.

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