Panthers get signature win in well-rounded effort

Maher Kawash, Basketball Reporter

In a time where the Eastern men’s basketball team’s back is against the wall, it came through with one of its best games of the season so far.

Sitting at the bottom of the conference and holding onto their postseason hopes by a thread, the Panthers received a special performance off the bench from a sophomore.

Casey Teson has not had the season he had hoped with a drop off in his shooting percentages and point average, but that did not stop him from helping the team earn a signature 81-71 win over first place Tennessee-Martin.

Teson torched the Skyhawk defense for 14-points, but not in his usual three-point dominating way.

He found his way to the free-throw line all night long, and sunk eight of his nine attempts in what was a particularly efficient game from the sophomore.

The Panthers knew going into this matchup that they had to essentially win the rest of their remaining games to get into the postseason.

What better way to do that then upset the top team in your division?

It is just one game and the odds may be against them, but this is the signature win the Panthers needed to begin a dreadful stretch against the top teams in the Ohio Valley Conference.

The 50 percent three-point shooting for Eastern was clearly an important part of the win, but what really topped it off was the first half defensive effort.

The Panthers took advantage of some sloppy play from the Skyhawks and forced 15 turnovers which led to 12 points.

UT-Martin cleaned up its play in the second half, but still finished the game with 19 turnovers.

It has been clear that the Panthers have needed a complete game to bounce back, and they got it against one of the best teams in conference.

It was an overall clean effort from Eastern and that was shown again through its ability to control the Skyhawk offense.

UT-Martin made it to the line just three times in the whole game giving Eastern coach Jay Spoonhour the kind of effort he has been desiring.

Spoonhour has stressed the importance of not making those little mistakes that have continued to plague the team, so it makes the victory all the better considering his team did that Thursday night.

It is an important step taken in the journey to get back into the tourney, but it cannot stop here for the Panthers.

Eastern still has four games remaining, three of which against the teams above them in the conference standings.

Winning out is the clear need and the team’s performance tonight shows that they understand what needs to be done as well.

The road will not get much easier any sooner as the Panthers face another first place team in Southeast Missouri State Saturday afternoon.

Maher Kawash can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]