Eastern loses final game of season to SIUE

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Eastern loses final game of season to SIUE

Senior Demetrius McReynolds soars under the basket Wednesday at Lantz Arena. Eastern fell 77-64 to the OVC conference opponent.

Senior Demetrius McReynolds soars under the basket Wednesday at Lantz Arena. Eastern fell 77-64 to the OVC conference opponent.

Bryan Bund

Senior Demetrius McReynolds soars under the basket Wednesday at Lantz Arena. Eastern fell 77-64 to the OVC conference opponent.

Bryan Bund

Bryan Bund

Senior Demetrius McReynolds soars under the basket Wednesday at Lantz Arena. Eastern fell 77-64 to the OVC conference opponent.

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

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There is not much arguing that this was not the season the men’s basketball team was hoping for or expecting and a loss to the OVC-winless Southern Illinois Edwardsville Cougars in the final game, summed up the season they had.

Eastern’s season had a lot of ups and downs, mostly downs, and a final game against 0-15 was there for the Panthers to at least end the season on a high note and potentially make a post-season tournament.

Instead, Eastern dropped its final game to the Cougars 78-59 and erased its chance at a post-season tournament berth.

Southern Illinois had a brutal season, and the 0-15 start shows that, but eight out of the 15 losses were less by 10 points. The Cougars will head into the offseason on a winning note.

Eastern was closing out its season strong with an overtime win over Southeast Missouri and Murray State, both OVC tournament-bound teams. It was too late of a push for an OVC Tournament berth, but another tournament entrance was possible.

Junior Muusa Dama finished off his first season as a Panther with a double-double. He dropped 18 points and 13 rebounds.

Dama’s strong performance was not enough to aid the Panthers who were seemingly outmatched.

The Cougars out-rebounded Eastern, outshot the Panthers from the field, and had six less turnovers than Eastern. SIUE scored 20 points off those turnovers.

Southern Illinois Edwardsville’s Burak Eslik scored 22 points to lead all scorers and Josh White was right behind him with 20. Devin Thornton scored 12 points off the bench for the Cougars.

Dama’s 13 rebounds led all players, but the fact that the Cougars had 10 out of 12 players bring down at least one rebound gave them the 43 rebounds.

All season, it was tough to pin point one flaw in the Panthers’ game, certain nights it was hit or miss. There were games that Eastern would go 5-20 from beyond the arc, then there would be games like against Austin Peay were they hit 17 from beyond the arc.

This game officially caps off Eastern’s season, which ended from far from where it was predicted to be at the beginning of the season. The Panthers were predicted to finish second in the OVC West.

But Eastern finished in third to last, in front of Eastern Kentucky and SIUE.

The eight teams in the OVC Tournament include: Belmont, Morehead State, Tennessee-Martin, Jacksonville State, Southeast Missouri, Murray State, Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech.

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