Panthers looking for complete game

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Panthers looking for complete game

Senior guard Terrell Lewis drives into the lane before passing it back out to Lucas Jones against Southern Indiana Nov. 6 in Lantz Arena. The Panthers are on the road against Western Wednesday.

Senior guard Terrell Lewis drives into the lane before passing it back out to Lucas Jones against Southern Indiana Nov. 6 in Lantz Arena. The Panthers are on the road against Western Wednesday.

Bryan Bund | The Daily Eastern News

Senior guard Terrell Lewis drives into the lane before passing it back out to Lucas Jones against Southern Indiana Nov. 6 in Lantz Arena. The Panthers are on the road against Western Wednesday.

Bryan Bund | The Daily Eastern News

Bryan Bund | The Daily Eastern News

Senior guard Terrell Lewis drives into the lane before passing it back out to Lucas Jones against Southern Indiana Nov. 6 in Lantz Arena. The Panthers are on the road against Western Wednesday.

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

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A four-point loss to Nebraska Saturday gave the Eastern men’s basketball team confidence, senior point guard Terrell Lewis said, but if they were able to play for the full 40 minutes, they could have come out on top.

Playing strong offense and defense for the whole game is what the Panthers are going to be focusing on at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Western Illinois.

“We have to continue to stay focused on both ends of the ball; the defensive end and the offensive end,” Lewis said. “I think we played real well last game on the defensive end for a long period of time, but there were stretches toward the end of the game when we couldn’t make plays and get stops.”

Lewis was the Panthers’ leading scorer with 13 points in the regular season opener against Nebraska.

The Panthers and Leathernecks are playing for the Old Rail Splitter Axe Trophy. The two teams rekindled their rivalry for that trophy last year. The Panthers came out on top in Lantz Arena. Eastern swept the season series as well with Western.

Lewis added that he felt like against Nebraska, the Panthers could have played better as a group.

He said against Western, he hopes that the Panthers can get into passing lanes and stay in front of the players they are guarding and turn it into offense.

Eastern won the last matchup 63-49.

The Panthers had four players score in double figures in the last match and had five in the game before that against the Leathernecks.

Lewis wanted a more complete game, and two games like that are representations of that. The Panthers outscored the Leathernecks 136-113 and forced 40 turnovers.

“(We need to) be running plays correctly toward the end and on the defensive end, just being in spots to defend and help there,” Lewis said.

Eastern is 0-1 to start its regular season, and Western is 1-0 following a 109-68 win over St. Mary’s University of Minnesota.

The Leathernecks used a huge second half to pull away from what was a four-point game at halftime.

They led 47-43, but a miserable second half from St. Mary’s gave it no chance to match the Leathernecks’ 62-point half.

Western had four players score in double figures and did that by scoring in the paint. Fifty-four of its points came down low and shot 67.7 percent overall.

The scoring onslaught was led by forward Brandon Gibeck, who scored 31 points for the Leathernecks and guard Dalan Ancrum contributed 21 points.

Eastern went 1-1 in its exhibition game with JaJuan Starks being the leading scorer through those two games, averaging 18 points. He scored 12 points and pulled down six in his Eastern regular season debut at Nebraska.

Starks has been one of the guys who has showed physicality getting to the rim. For everyone, it is about finishing as Lewis said.

Eastern’s bench runs deep, where even the new guys are getting regular playing time. Saturday Eastern had foul trouble, and Spoonhour said the Panthers did a good job of backing each other up.

Eastern has only started 0-2 in one of its last four seasons. The last time was in 2015-2016 when it was blown out by Indiana and lost to Ball State next.

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