Men’s basketball wins 3rd-straight OVC game

Eastern+guard+Josiah+Wallace+drives+inside+against+Tennessee-Martin+Jan.+23+in+Lantz+Arena.+Wallace+had+22+points%2C+20+of+which+came+in+the+first+half%2C+the+Panthers+won+the+game+95-83.+

JJ Bullock | The Daily Eastern News

Eastern guard Josiah Wallace drives inside against Tennessee-Martin Jan. 23 in Lantz Arena. Wallace had 22 points, 20 of which came in the first half, the Panthers won the game 95-83.

Blake Faith, Men's Basketball Reporter

Eastern’s men’s basketball team got its revenge against Tennessee-Martin, winning its third straight conference game 95-83.

Junior guard Josiah Wallace led the Panthers in scoring with 22 points while Skyhawks leading scorers Parker Stewart and Quentin Dove each scored 27 points.

The Panthers executed on offense in the first half, exposing the Skyhawks three-point defense by shooting 50 percent from the three-point line, making eight three-pointers, to take a 57-37 first-half lead.

Junior Mack Smith began the three-point shooting when he made his first three-pointer less than four minutes into the game. Smith increased his consecutive games with a three-pointer made to 68 games.

Wallace found his shooting rhythm early in the first half, shooting an overall 8-of-10 from the field and 4-of-4 from the three-point line recording 20 of his 22 points in the first half.

Wallace also recorded two assists including an electrifying alley-oop to junior guard Marvin Johnson.

The Skyhawk offense saw their two leading scorers Stewart (17 points) and Dove (12 points) combine for 29 of the Skyhawks 36 points in the first half. The Skyhawks shot 46.4 percent from the field behind their two leading scorers, but missed on opportunities in the paint and only scored 12 points in the paint in the first half.

The Skyhawks went on a 17-6 run midway through the second half to make the score 78-68. Stewart and Dove combined for 10 points during that run.

The Panthers all season have relaxed after building a lead, but seem to hold on with key offensive plays.

Senior Shareef Smith has found ways during this homestand to end the momentum of an opposing team by getting a quick basket or making an offensive play. Smith went coast-to-coast for a layup to end the Skyhawks’ run.

“I really only know one way to play and that is you give it a 110 percent and give it your all,” Smith said. “Coach has been talking to me saying we need to play faster so with my speed it gets us in the flow of things and make us play as a team.”

The Panthers then relied on George Dixon’s offensive abilities in the paint to finish off the Skyhawks. Dixon worked his way inside of the paint to get points off of layups, dunks and free throws as he finished with 20 points.

“You’re trying to play smart and you’re not worrying about the score, but it’s a human nature deal that guys are going to relax,” head coach Jay Spoonhour said. “You have to fight human nature and continue to play and attack within reason and be smart.”

Defensively, Johnson and Smith harassed and forced Stewart to take contested shots causing him to go 8-of-19 from the field and 5-of-11 from the three-point line. Spoonhour stated that Stewart is a good player and thought that Johnson and Smith played well defensively against him.

The Panthers improve to 10-9 overall, 3-4 in conference play and 6-0 at home in Lantz Arena. The Panthers move into seventh place in the OVC standings with the win.

Eastern’s men’s basketball team will finish out its four-game homestand against Southeast Missouri on Saturday at 3:15 p.m.

 

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