Panthers take down Skyhawks in key game

Sean Hastings, Men's Basketball Reporter

On Jan. 19 the Panthers fell to the Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks in double overtime. Eastern got the best of the Skyhawks this time around in Lantz Arena for an 81-71 win Thursday night.

Eastern, right now, is just trying to keep its season alive and get a OVC tournament berth. A win Thursday helps that.

The Panthers were able to overcome being outrebounded 40-31, something the Panthers knew the Skyhawks would be good at, junior Muusa Dama said prior to the game.

Eastern made up for the lack of rebounding and points down low by hitting 12 of 24 3-point attempts. The Skyhawks had 37 points in the paint compared to Eastern’s 20.

That has been a hit-or-miss for the Panthers this year. At time, a player like Demetrius McReynolds can take over the game down low with his drives to the basket, but sometimes Eastern falls in love with a jump shot and falls behind and cannot catch up.

That was not the case Thursday as Eastern shot 47.1 percent overall.

Junior Montell Goodwin, who had struggled lately from beyond the arc, was 4-5 Thursday to lead the charge for the Panthers with 22 points.

Dama also said the Panthers would need to limit the Skyhawks’ “shooter” (Jacolby Mobley) and not let him get 3’s off and the Panthers let him get off seven but he only connected on three.

Eastern had four players score in double digits. Goodwin led with 22, senior Demetruius McReynolds scored 16, junior Ray Crossland had 16 and sophomore Casey Teson had 14 off the bench.

Another difference in the game was Eastern’s ability to get to the line. The Panthers were 21-27 from the line and kept Tennessee-Martin off the line. The Skyhawks only shot six free throws.

Earlier in the season coach Jay Spoonhour said the Panthers send more players to the line and give up more and-1s than any other team.

Eastern flipped the script this time around as they were the team struggling to get to the line last time, shooting just 11 free throws and having the Skyhawks shoot 26.

The Panthers’ win makes the standings a little complicated right now with just four games left on the schedule. Tennessee State lost Thursday and it moved to 6-6 and are tied with Tennessee Tech in the East Division.

Tennessee Tech and Tennessee State have the bottom spots of the top 8 OVC teams and with Eastern two games behind the two schools, wins are still a necessity for Eastern to sneak into the tournament.

Tennessee State will play 12-0 Belmont Saturday. So movement for the No. 7 and No. 8 spot can be expected in the next few games.

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