Eastern suffers fifth straight loss 77-64

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Eastern suffers fifth straight loss 77-64

Senior Demetrius McReynolds drives to the basket against Belmont defenders in the second half Wednesday at Lantz Arena. McReynolds scored 20 points, hauled in 6 rebounds in 32 minutes in Eastern’s 77-64 loss.

Senior Demetrius McReynolds drives to the basket against Belmont defenders in the second half Wednesday at Lantz Arena. McReynolds scored 20 points, hauled in 6 rebounds in 32 minutes in Eastern’s 77-64 loss.

Bryan Bund

Senior Demetrius McReynolds drives to the basket against Belmont defenders in the second half Wednesday at Lantz Arena. McReynolds scored 20 points, hauled in 6 rebounds in 32 minutes in Eastern’s 77-64 loss.

Bryan Bund

Bryan Bund

Senior Demetrius McReynolds drives to the basket against Belmont defenders in the second half Wednesday at Lantz Arena. McReynolds scored 20 points, hauled in 6 rebounds in 32 minutes in Eastern’s 77-64 loss.

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

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Within the first 10 minutes of the second half, Belmont shot seven 3-pointers and made all of them. The hot start turned a 4-point deficit at the end of the half into a 56-44 deficit an eventually a 77-64 for loss for Eastern.

The loss drops the Panthers to 1-7 in Ohio Valley Conference play.

The Panthers limited the Bruins to eight 3-point attempts in the first half. Belmont went on to shoot 8-9 in the second half from beyond the arc and finished the game 11-19.

Junior Muusa Dama said the reasoning for the Bruin’s hot 3-point shooting to start the half was because Belmont started with its big men on the outside, forcing Eastern to stay on them when they both cut to avoid an open layup, but in turn left open a 3-point shooter.

While the 3-pointers hurt Eastern Wednesday night, all in all, it has been the same story for almost all of OVC play: Eastern just cannot get shots to fall.

With 6:18 left in the game, Eastern trailed by just six points and had more than two opportunities to get the game closer and even tied.

Juniors Terrell Lewis and Ray Crossland both missed open 3-point looks.

“We got wide open looks and just didn’t make them,” coach Jay Spoonhour said. “And the reality is, you got to jump up and make them, but I’m proud of how we fought.”

And it has also happened more times than just Wednesday, but the Panthers have spells of “lack of poise” Spoonhour called it, where the Panthers try to do a bit too much and that leads to the lack of offense.

“During the games we have spells of not enough poise where we think ‘this shot I’m taking is going to be worth 11 points,” Spoonhour said. “That’s kind of thing that you have to learn, but sometimes you will have to already have learned that you have to poise.”

The example for Wednesday was Eastern having the lead by eight points with 9:16 left in the first half, but they changed the way they played, Spoonhour said. Belmont had an 18-8 run in the final 7:10.

Although Belmont was hitting 3’s at will, the toughest test was going to be for Dama guarding one of the OVC’s top scorers and big men, Evan Bradds. He averages 20 points per game. He scored 23 Wednesday, but for the most part, Dama held his own.

Dama had four blocks Wednesday night, putting him second all-time on the Eastern single-season block list. He is 11 blocks away from breaking Erick Frankford’s 1995 record of 55 blocks.

“Since the last game, coach told me ‘your next matchup is going to be the biggest matchup of the year because (Bradds) is averaging 20 points,” Dama said. “Since then I was getting mentally ready for him. I respect him, I think he’s a really good player.”

As well as Dama handled Bradds, Eastern still lost and dropped to 1-7 and has a very small margin for error. One more loss could seal the Panthers’ fate of missing the OVC Tournament.

“I don’t know if its panic time, but it’s pretty close to panic time,” Spoonhour said. “I don’t want anarchy, but I’d like some healthy panic.”

Eastern will host winless Southern Illinois Edwardsville Saturday.

Gallery: Men’s Basketball falls 77-64 to OVC leading Belmont

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