Late turnover sinks men’s basketball in loss to Morehead State

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JJ Bullock | The Daily Eastern News Eastern freshman Ben Harvey drives the basket through a scrum of Morehead State defenders in the Panthers 84-78 loss Saturday in Lantz Arena. Harvey had 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting.

Dillan Schorfheide, Assistant Sports Editor

Eastern’s men’s basketball team tried every possible way to come back and tie or beat Morehead State Saturday, but the Eagles (9-14, 5-5) made too many free throws down the stretch and secured an 84-78 win over Eastern (13-10, 6-4).

With 1:59 left in the game, Shareef Smith got a steal and was fouled on his shot attempt, making one out of his two free throws to give Eastern a 69-67 lead.

De’von Cooper made a shot in the lane 20 seconds later for Morehead State, and the Eagles would lead after that point for the rest of the game.

James Baker made a three-pointer for the Eagles with one minute left in the game to give his team a 72-69 lead.

Shareef Smith then had the ball taken away from him on Eastern’s next possession by one of Morehead State’s best players, Lamontray Harris, and Eastern then had to resort to the fouling strategy.

But for the rest of the time, Morehead State made 12 of its 14 free throw attempts to keep its lead just far enough out of reach from Eastern.

“I feel like it was just execution down the stretch, we had turnovers when we did not need them, that was really it,” Kashawn Charles said. “When you’re forced into a fouling issue, putting them on the line, that’s just the chance of, ‘Are they going to miss?’”

Charles led Eastern with 19 points off the bench, good for the second-leading scorer overall Saturday behind Morehead State’s leading scorer Jordan Walker, who had 30 points Saturday.

Charles scored 12 of his points in the second half.

“When I took (the ball) to the rim, I had a lot of openings, so it was just easy for me to finish,” Charles said.

Charles was the OVC leader in three-point field goal percentage, but after a stretch of games of not making many, he fell out of the top 10. Saturday he shot 3-of-4 from beyond the three-point line and 8-of-10 overall.

Eastern threatened late-game heroics that could have turned the game to overtime or in Eastern’s favor.

Charles hit a quick three-pointer with 26 seconds left to bring the Panthers to within four points, after Morehead State got a 76-69 lead.

Then with 7.8 seconds left, with Eastern trailing 79-72, Josiah Wallace took another quick three-point attempt, from about the same spot on the left wing that Charles did, made the shot and got fouled in the process, making the free throw for a four-point play.

Wallace’s almost circus of a shot and added free throw made it seem as though Eastern could pull it off, but the Panthers had to rely on Morehead State missing free throws, and it did not as the Eagles made five of them in the remaining time.

Trying to get quick threes was Eastern’s go-to option down with such little time left, but, twice in a row, the Panthers tried to make deep in-bounds passes from Wallace to Mack Smith for quick points, but only one of the tries was successful.

Even then, Mack Smith’s layup on the second attempt came with only 3.2 seconds left and with the Eagles still leading 83-78.

Aside from the Eagles’, mainly Walker’s, good three-point shooting (team shot 8-17, Walker 4-8), a big chunk of Morehead State’s scoring came in the paint: 40 points. Eastern jumped out to a 16-4 lead six minutes into the game, crowding the lane and not letting the Eagles get any good shot attempts. But after that point, Morehead State scored a lot of points on drives to the basket or on post-up shots.

“They’ve got multiple guys who can drive it, multiple guys who can shoot it, and their record’s not indicative of their team, which I try to tell people, but nobody listens,” said Eastern head coach Jay Spoonhour.

Along with Charles, Mack Smith and Wallace had 16 points for Eastern, and Ben Harvey had 11 points off the bench.

To help Walker, Baker had 15 points, Cooper had 14 and Harris had 12, including his 1000 career points in his Eagles career.

Dillan Schorfheide can be reached at581-2812 or [email protected]