Panthers win 86-80 in overtime

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Panthers win 86-80 in overtime

Junior forward Muusa Dama prepares to grab a rebound off the shot of teammate Demetrius McReynolds Wednesday, Jan. 25 at Lantz Arena.

Junior forward Muusa Dama prepares to grab a rebound off the shot of teammate Demetrius McReynolds Wednesday, Jan. 25 at Lantz Arena.

Bryan Bund

Junior forward Muusa Dama prepares to grab a rebound off the shot of teammate Demetrius McReynolds Wednesday, Jan. 25 at Lantz Arena.

Bryan Bund

Bryan Bund

Junior forward Muusa Dama prepares to grab a rebound off the shot of teammate Demetrius McReynolds Wednesday, Jan. 25 at Lantz Arena.

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

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It took an overtime period, but the men’s basketball team was able to keep its season alive with an 86-80 win over the Southeast Missouri Redhawks, on Saturday in Lantz Arena.

The Panthers held a 5-point lead with 56 seconds left, but Southeast Missouri scored a few late buckets to send it to overtime. A dominating performance by junior Muusa Dama in the overtime period secured a win for Eastern.

Junior forward Muusa Dama tosses in a basket over Murray State’s Brion Sanchious in a 83-72 OVC loss Thursday, Jan. 12 at Lantz Arena.

Justin Brown
Junior forward Muusa Dama tosses in a basket over Murray State’s Brion Sanchious in a 83-72 OVC loss Thursday, Jan. 12 at Lantz Arena.

Dama had 14 points overall but nine of those came in overtime. He had eight of Eastern’s first 10 points.

Heading to overtime, the Panthers were tired but Dama convinced himself he was not and that he had a lot left in him, he said.

“I could tell a lot of the guys were tired, including me, but the energy was the thing that was going to keep us going,” Dama said. “So I kept my energy up and passed it on as much as I could to my teammates.”

He also brought down 18 rebounds in the game, a season high for him. He also set the Eastern single season blocks record. He has 58 on the season; surpassing Eric Frankford’s 1995 record of 55 blocks in a season.

He may have broken the record, but with three games left, he is not done blocking shots and letting teams know he is there.

“I didn’t know I had broke it until after the game yesterday,” he said. “It felt really good, I was surprised but I was really happy about that. I’m not done yet blocking shots so let’s see how many more I can get before the season is over.”

Dama, who usually deals with foul trouble and fouling out, kept the fouls to a minimum. At times this season, coach Jay Spoonhour has had to take out the Panthers’ big man to limit his foul trouble. He recorded only two fouls.

With Dama’s position on the team, he finds himself down low on most possessions, causing him to make contact unavoidably. But that was something he said he tried to avoid against Southeast Missouri.

And Dama was the only Panther to score from the field. The other six points of Eastern’s 15 in overtime came from the free throw line.

“Our energy on the bench and the team staying together was what worked for us throughout the entire game,” Dama said. “We had to stay together no matter the outcome and I personally think that helped us on the court.”

Eastern’s two wins in the last two games have kept their ground and with a chance to get into the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament. Eastern is in ninth right now; one game behind Tennessee State.

Eastern has three games remaining and all are on the road. Eastern will start with Austin Peay Thursday and take on Murray State on Saturday. The Panthers will finish off the regular season against Southern Illinois Edwardsville Feb. 25.

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