Panthers win big over Indiana Northwest


The Daily Eastern News

Dillan Schorfheide | The Daily Eastern News Mack Smith rises on the wing for a three-point attempt. Smith extended his streak of consecutive games with a made three-pointer to 53 games Monday in Eastern’s 114-61 victory over Indiana Northwestern.

Tom O'Connor, Men's Basketball Reporter

Not since the 2000-01 season had the Panthers scored 90 or more points in back-to-back games, and it was just the second game over the past four years in which the Panthers posted at least 100 points for what was a 114-61 victory against Northwest Indiana Monday.

With the win, Eastern seized the first of four tournament games, and the only one it will play at Lantz Arena, as they travel to Texas this coming weekend for the tail end of the Incarnate Word MTE Tournament.

Deang Deang, who had not cracked the starting lineup ahead of tipoff, took on greater ball handling responsibilities and chipped in eight assists over the course of the 16 minutes he took the court.

Spoonhour lauded the six-foot-four guard for claiming a spot in the upper echelon of the OVC in assist to turnover ratio. Only Eastern’s George Dixon and Austin Peay’s Carlos Paez have been more careful with the basketball. 

“What did he have six assists and no turnovers at Texas Tech, or something like that?” Spoonhour said. “It was pretty impressive. And then here tonight he has eight assists no turnovers, five steals. He does a lot of stuff really, really well, plays hard and he’s producing, that’s the whole key point.”

His command with the ball translated to stubbornness behind it. One such sequence transpired early in the second half when Deang dogged Marshaud Watkins on an inbounds pass, meant for Richard Robinson near midcourt, that was swiped out of play near the scorer’s table.

He even managed to nearly match the assist output of the entire Indiana Northwest roster, garnering eight assists to Indiana Northwest’s nine.

“He doesn’t get tired, doesn’t get down,” Mack Smith said. “He just goes out there and makes our job a little easier. So what our job is to deny the wings, if they can’t get it there, and he’s just out there, contending and pressuring, they can’t start their office.”

Seven Eastern players came away with double figures in scoring, and all but two players that entered the court contributed at least one assist, giving the Panthers enough leverage to dwarf Northwest Indiana’s shooting percentage by a substantial margin.

The Panthers shot at a 56 percent clip for the game, whereas Northwest Indiana, bereft of any consistency behind the three-point line, found the net on just over 30 percent of the shots they took on the night. 

Standing inside the paint, about two feet from the free throw line, Shareef Smith tossed the ball up to JaQualis Matlock, who came down with a forceful dunk that handed the Panthers a 55-point lead on the Redhawks within the last minute of the game.

Spoonhour still had a qualm or two concerning their ball control at times.

“I still get mad at all the turnovers, even though you have to live with some of them… It’s not so much the turnovers, it’s what you were trying to do when you turned it over that’s the issue and if you are trying to force a play that is not there,” Spoonhour said.

Tom O’Connor can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]