Panthers’ comeback stopped short, lose to Fort Wayne on road

Blake Faith, Men's Basketball Reporter

Eastern’s men’s basketball team was down 13 points to Fort Wayne and clawed their way back to within one point. The Mastodon’s held on to their lead down the stretch and won 74-69 over the Panthers.

Jarred Godfrey led the Mastodons in scoring with 20 points. Junior Marvin Johnson led the Panthers in scoring with 17 points.

Junior Deang Deang started the defensive comeback when he made a steal and took the ball and scored to bring the Panthers to within four with four minutes and 30 seconds left in the game. Fort Wayne then missed a free throw and Johnson took the ball in for a layup to bring the Panthers within two.

Johnson then missed a jumper that Fort Wayne rebounded and gave it to Godfrey who made a three-pointer to give the Mastodons a 70-65 lead. Junior Mack Smith answered back for the Panthers with a two-point jumper to cut the Mastodon lead to 70-67.

The Panther defense forced a last second shot that Fort Wayne missed. The rebound came out to junior Josiah Wallace who took it to the paint and made a layup cutting the deficit to 70-69.

“It was a good game.  We played real hard,” head coach Jay Spoonhour said. “Would have been a great road win. I think our guys do a really good job of fighting hard defensively for a full game.”

The first half of the game saw five tied scores and six lead changes. Eastern secured the lead when Kashawn Charles made a two-pointer with 4 minutes and 33 seconds left in the half. The half finished with the score 33-32 in the Panthers’ favor.

Defensively the Panthers made the Mastodons commit 12 turnovers in the first half. The Panther offense capitalized on those turnovers recording 13 points off of turnovers.

Smith started the game 0-of-5 from the three-point line before making a three with under seven minutes in the half. The three-pointer increased Smith’s NCAA-leading consecutive game with a three-pointer made streak to 57 games.

Smith finished the game 4-of-11 from the field, 2-of-9 from the three-point line and scored 12 points.

Fort Wayne began the second half on an 11-0 run. Fort Wayne outscored Eastern 26-13 in the first nine minutes of the half.  Fort Wayne shot 57.1 percent from the field while committing five turnovers.

Inside of that last three minutes of that run the Mastodon defense held the Panthers to no scoring. The Panther offense turned the ball over six times and shot 42.1 percent from the field during that stretch.

“IPFW is a very good offensive team, but I thought their defense was caused us some problems,” Spoonhour said. “We settled for some jumpers, when I wish we’d had a little more patience.”

The Panthers’ record falls to 4-4 on the season. Their next game will be at home on Saturday at Lantz Arena against Green Bay.

Blake Faith can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]