Eastern set for biggest game of year


Bryan Bund

Ray Crossland makes a move to the basket against the Austin Peay defenders Saturday, Jan. 14 at Lantz Arena. He ended up with 6 points in the lose to the Governors.

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

With the way the standings are set right now for the Eastern basketball team, a 2-1 record to finish off the season could get them in the OVC Tournament. The Panthers are one game behind Tennessee State for the No. 8 seed.

The Panthers will play Austin Peay Thursday, Murray State Saturday and Southern Illinois Edwardsville Feb. 25 to finish off the regular season. For the Panthers, a win against SIUE is probable as the cougars are winless in OVC play.

A win against 7-5 Murray State will be tough. Eastern lost 83-72 earlier in the season. That is why a win against Austin Peay is a necessity.

Tennessee State has a bit of a tougher end to its season, as it will play Belmont and Morehead State, the top two teams in the OVC. And Eastern is going to need Tennessee State to lose both of those games so Eastern can pick up a game on the Tigers.

Eastern holds the tiebreaker if the two teams were to finish with matching records.

Eastern is riding a two-game win streak, with its latest being an overtime thriller against Southeast Missouri, where junior Muusa Dama took over the game in the overtime period. Dama scored nine out of the 15 points Eastern scored in overtime.

Junior Montell Goodwin also caught fire in the last two games and it earned him OVC player of the week and OVC Newcomer of the week.

He tied a career high with 22 points in the Panthers’ win against Tennessee-Martin Thursday and broke his career high with 24 points against Southeast Missouri.

Eastern’s best chance to make the tournament will be as the No. 8 seed, but that did not seem to matter last year for Austin Peay.

The Governors won last year’s OVC tournament as the No. 8 seed.

Eastern had dominance all over the court besides the performances from Dama in overtime and Goodwin all game. Eastern had three players that game record double doubles.

Dama, junior Ray Crossland and senior Demetrius McReynolds recorded double doubles in the win against Southeast Missouri.

Dama had 14 points and a career high 18 rebounds in the game. Crossland scored 15 points and brought down 11 rebounds and McReynolds picked up 11 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.

Dama also broke the single season block record.

Everything the Panthers had missed at one point or another was present in that win and having it against Austin Peay will be key.

Tip off is set for 7 p.m. in Clarksville, Tennessee.

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