Wallace named to all-OVC 1st team


JJ Bullock

Eastern’s Josiah Wallace plays defense on Tennessee-Martin’s Kevin Little in the first half of Eastern’s 78-71 loss to the Skyhawks Wednesday night in Evansville. Wallace was named first-team all-conference and is making his first appearance in the conference tournament.

JJ Bullock, Sports Editor

EVANSVILLE, Ind. — On Tuesday Eastern sophomore Josiah Wallace was named to the all-OVC first team, an honor he achieved after averaging 15.2 points per game for the Eastern men’s basketball team this season.

While the honor was great, Wallace on Wednesday night stepped onto the court for Eastern’s first-round OVC tournament game against Tennessee-Martin with unfinished business in mind.

Wallace, a transfer from Olney Community College, was making his first appearance in the OVC tournament Wednesday night just one day after earning the first all-conference nod of his Division I career.

It was clear however that in Wallace’s mind the game against Tennessee-Martin and the OVC tournament itself is far more important than the first-team selection.

“I was pretty excited when I found out (about the first-team selection), but I knew this week we had a bigger picture to take care of, we had bigger business to handle,” Wallace said. “I haven’t really reflected (on the selection) too much but it’s a good honor, a great honor and I am blessed to be able to receive that. But, we were more focused on tonight.”

Wallace scored a game-high 26 points in Eastern’s Wednesday night, season-ending loss to Tennessee-Martin 78-71.

He did what he could for Eastern and what he had done all season, scoring his 26 points on an efficient 10-of-16 shooting. It was the type of performance that should be expected of an all-conference player, the only one on Eastern’s roster, but nonetheless, it was not the outcome Wallace or his team wanted.

“I am not really thinking about individual performances too much because individually it doesn’t really matter if you don’t get the win, you don’t get the win,” Wallace said. “I had a good game but it wasn’t enough to get the win so I am not really focused on that too much.”

Regardless of the outcome, Wallace was in a groove on the court.

His 10-of-16 shooting display was one of his best this season, the 10 made field goals ties his season-high.

He was 3-of-7 three-point shooting and converted on the contested layup that brought Eastern within three points at 74-71 with six seconds to play.

His performance looked like that of an all-conference player.

“My teammates got me the ball under the basket and I was able to make it a couple of tough shots in the first half that fell,” Wallace said. “Really I was just able to make couple of tough shots down in the lane and my teammates found me. They were setting good screens for me and making good passes to me cutting to the basket so that’s what was working and we just kept going to it.”

Wednesday night following the loss, Wallace’s all-conference selection was certainly moved toward the back of his mind, particularly with the way Eastern once again lost in late game fashion.

Wallace did say however that as the offseason progresses for Eastern he will reflect on the selection, but right now he and his teammates are focused on what occurred Wednesday night.

“I’ll probably reflect on it once we start moving on to next season,” Wallace said. “But right now we’re just kind of just focused on what just happened…yeah.”

Wallace was headed into this game facing his first postseason action not only as an all-conference player, but also as a Division I basketball player. Mentally, Wallace tried to process this game like would any other game, but recognized coming in the level of importance was raised.

“I just kind of take it the same as every other game, but you have to know its win or go home so there is a bigger stake at risk and that’s always in the back of your mind,” Wallace said. “We were all locked in pretty well but sometimes it doesn’t go your way and tonight it didn’t go our way but all we can do now is just regroup and just focus on getting better next year and just know we are not going to be in this spot next year.”

JJ Bullock can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].