Eastern falls just short against Dayton

Adam Tumino, Editor-in-Chief

The third game of the season for the Eastern men’s basketball team was also their closest as they lost 66-63 to Dayton. A potential game-tying three-point attempt by Josiah Wallace fell short at the buzzer, ending Eastern’s comeback bid.

The Panthers fell to 0-3 on the season, having lost to Wisconsin and Marquette last week.

Head coach Jay Spoonhour said he was mostly happy with the way the team competed against Dayton.

“We competed really, really well,” he said. “We played hard the whole time and did a lot of things well, better in fact than the first two games. We took better shots and played together better.”

Eastern trailed by as many as 15 points in the first half and 16 points in the second half, but were able to cut the halftime deficit to 5 points and the climb to within 3 points by the end of the game.

“We had two big stretches to start each half that really killed us, where they were just too comfortable and we didn’t get after them enough.” Spoonhour said.

This was the third straight loss for Eastern to open the season, but they all came against strong opponents.

Wisconsin was ranked seventh in the country when Eastern played them, and has since moved into the fourth spot in the AP Poll.

Marquette posted an overall record of 18-12 last season and were 13-3 at home, where they played the Panthers.

Dayton ended last season ranked third in the nation, in large part due to the presence of now-departed star Obi Toppin, who won multiple national player of the year awards last season before being drafted eighth overall by the New York Knicks in the NBA Draft.

Dayton is unranked without Tobbin, but still has a Second Team Preseason All-American in Jalen Crutcher.

Spoonhour said that three losses to these teams is not entirely surprising.

“There’s 300 teams in the country that would be 0-3 right now,” he said. “There’s not many people that would go beat one of these three on the road.”

He also said that, although the team is of course trying to win, it is understandable when losses occur against top-tier opponents. He said that the score is not always the best way to evaluate the team in games like that.

“You gauge it based on how you play,” Spoonhour said. “We took too many guarded shots, bad shots against Marquette. A little bit of the same against Wisconsin, but that’s to be understood. In this game we did a much better job. We passed up some shots and got more open looks, and all the while we competed and we tried hard.”

Individually for the Panthers, Marvin Johnson led the way in scoring with 14 points, shooting 6-of-9 from the field and 2-of-3 from three.

Mack Smith also extended his streak of consecutive games with a three pointer made to 84 games. He scored 13 points and shot 3-of-3 from beyond the arc.

Eastern will take the court for its home opener Thursday at 2 p.m. against Chicago State.

Adam Tumino can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]