Panthers lose another guard in loss to Tigers

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Panthers lose another guard in loss to Tigers

Senior Ray Crossland looks to cut into the lane in the Panthers’ 86-74 loss to Southeast Missouri Jan. 20 in Lantz Arena. Eastern lost 50-47 to Tennessee State Saturday on the road.

Senior Ray Crossland looks to cut into the lane in the Panthers’ 86-74 loss to Southeast Missouri Jan. 20 in Lantz Arena. Eastern lost 50-47 to Tennessee State Saturday on the road.

JJ Bullock

Senior Ray Crossland looks to cut into the lane in the Panthers’ 86-74 loss to Southeast Missouri Jan. 20 in Lantz Arena. Eastern lost 50-47 to Tennessee State Saturday on the road.

JJ Bullock

JJ Bullock

Senior Ray Crossland looks to cut into the lane in the Panthers’ 86-74 loss to Southeast Missouri Jan. 20 in Lantz Arena. Eastern lost 50-47 to Tennessee State Saturday on the road.

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

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Senior guard Terrell Lewis has been out since the ninth game of the season, junior guard D’Angelo Jackson has been out since the 12th game of the season and in the men’s basketball team’s Saturday night loss to Tennessee State, sophomore guard Logan Koch went down with an apparent injury.

Koch made his first career start in Eastern’s 50-47 loss to Tennessee State on the road, but he went down with just over six minutes left in the first half. Koch got bumped by Tennessee State’s Delano Spencer as Spencer drove to the basket.

Koch tried walking off the floor on his own and took a few steps before sitting on the floor in front of the Panthers’ bench.

Koch never returned to the game and was seen on the bench with the area around his foot wrapped.

Eastern is waiting for further confirmation about Koch’s status.

Jackson may return as early as this week, coach Jay Spoonhour said last week, but if he does not and Koch’s injury is serious, the Panthers will have to find their way around a third guard being out with an injury.

Neither Eastern’s or Tennessee State’s offense found consistency throughout the game, as both teams were tied at 19 at the end of the first half.

The Panthers shot 14-48 from the field in the game. The Tigers did not let the Panthers get anything going down low, allowing just 10 points in the paint.

“They’re a very good defensive team,” Spoonhour said. “It is difficult to get anything other than a jump shot, and I thought both teams really did a good job of contesting shots.”

The Tigers picked up the season sweep over the Panthers with Saturday’s win, after beating the Panthers at home 69-65 Jan. 11. Late turnovers cost the Panthers in the first meeting, but this time around, Eastern took better care of the ball and turned it over 13 times, compared to 22 the first.

“We have to complete a few more plays when we get the ball around the basket,” Spoonhour said.

“When you’re not shooting well, you’ve got to the free throw line more and (get) more put backs.”

After Koch opened the scoring with a three-pointer at 18:02, the Panthers went 5:33 without scoring another basket. Later in the half, following another Koch three-pointer, the Panthers went 3:59 without another field goal.

Along with struggling to put the ball in the basket, Eastern did not find an answer for Tennessee State’s Christian Mekowulu, who scored 27 points.

He also had 10 rebounds to contribute to his double-double.

Freshman Mack Smith led the Panthers for the second-straight game in scoring with 17 points. Smith was 9-9 at the free throw line, with seven of them coming over a near 8-minute stretch where Eastern went without a field goal. The Panthers had four stretches in the game where they went over two minutes without a field goal.

And also for the second straight game, the Panthers’ season leading scorer, senior Montell Goodwin, struggled to score.

Belmont shut down Goodwin Thursday, limiting him to seven points and Tennessee State held him to five points.

The loss dropped Eastern to 3-7 in OVC play and ninth in the conference.

Eastern still has eight games left on its schedule to fight for an OVC Tournament spot.

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