Eastern gets much needed win


Venkata Poosapati

Senior Demetrius McReynolds drives into the paint Saturday at Lantz Arena. McReynolds scored 16 points in 20 minutes in the 75-60 win.

Sean Hastings, Men's Basketball Reporter

Eastern’s 7-0 run in overtime is what it needed to complete its comeback 77-67 win over Tennessee State Thursday night on the road.

Senior Demetrius McReynolds is the senior on the team and he stepped up like the leader he is relied on to be.

“Meech (McReynolds) second half was just outstanding,” coach Jay Spoonhour said. “They did a good job covering him early on, but he just stayed with it. Of all the big shots, his put back in overtime was probably the biggest.”

He was huge for them last game against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville and was the same Thursday. McReynolds tip in with 3:48 left in overtime sparked the Panthers’ 7-0 run to send them to their second win in a row.

To follow up his tip in, McReynolds drilled a 3-pointer and hit two more free throws later in the overtime period.

He finished with 22 points and shot over 50 percent overall and was 4-7 from beyond the arc. Spoonhour has talked about the importance of McReynolds being the versatile player with the way he can drive to the basket and be a natural shooter.

This was one of Eastern’s biggest games of the season thus far after Austin Peay won Wednesday. The Governors are one game ahead of the Panthers in the West division. A loss Thursday for the Panthers would put them two games behind and facing an even higher hill to climb.

“The fellas just kept competing, and that’s not as easy as it sounds when you’re not playing well, especially on the road,” Spoonhour said.

Where it is at right now, the Panthers remain in fifth place in the Ohio Valley Conference West behind the Governors and the Panthers are getting back to their play like they had in the non-conference games.

Eastern is shooting the ball better from beyond the arc, 10-22 Thursday, scored 26 points in the paint and brought down 32 rebounds.

The Panthers trailed by as much as 14 with 14:54 in the game, and did not have a lead in the game until the 9:16 mark in the second half. Junior Montell Goodwin drilled a 3-pointer to give the Panthers a 51-50 lead.

The two teams went back-and-forth for the remainder of the second half. Tennessee State got a layup to take a 61-59 lead, but McReynolds got those points right back with 47 seconds left in the game.

Eastern has three big home games coming up. They will host Tennessee Tech Saturday, Tennessee-Martin Feb. 9 and Southeast Missouri next Saturday, Feb. 11.

Eastern proved over the last two games they have the talent to win games in conference, there was not much of that early in the year. But with Austin Peay so close ahead of them and the team Eastern will face after finish up the home stand, the need for wins is at an all-time high.

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