Panthers go 2-2 in OVC games over break

Adam Tumino, Editor-in-Chief

Winter Break was not a break for everyone. The Eastern men’s basketball team began conference play in between semesters, playing four games and picking up two victories.

After a non-conference schedule that featured some tough games, the Panthers’ conference opener against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville was postponed due to COVID-19 cases in the Cougars’ program.

Instead, the Panthers opened conference play on Dec. 30, 2020, against Eastern Kentucky. The Colonels held on for a 69-61 win, but Mack Smith made history for Eastern in the game.

Smith made a three pointer for the 89th straight game, breaking the all-time NCAA Division I record previously held by former Illinois star Cory Bradford.

Eastern’s George Dixon led the Panthers with 12 points and 15 rebounds in the game. He was the only Eastern player to score in double figures.

Entering the new year, the Panthers played their next game on Jan. 2 against Tennessee Tech, earning their first conference win of the season.

Three Panthers scored in double figures in the win over the Golden Eagles, led by Josiah Wallace and Marvin Johnson with 19 points each. Johnson also added 10 assists and 6 rebounds.

Kashawn Charles provided a spark off the bench, scoring 16 points while shooting 6-of-6 from the field including 4-of-4 from three-point range.

After beating Tennessee Tech, Eastern traveled to play Murray State. A strong second half from the Panthers earned them a 74-68 win over the Racers.

Johnson led the team in scoring once again, tallying 22 points in the game and adding 5 rebounds and 4 assists. Wallace recorded a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds.

Eastern looked to extend its winning streak to three games when they played Austin Peay Jan. 9, but a buzzer-beating three from the Governors’ Terry Taylor gave Eastern a 74-71 loss.

Taylor led all scorers in the game with 38 points and was the only Austin Peay player to score in double figures.

Despite the loss, four Eastern players scored in double figures. Smith led the team with 16 and Wallace with 14. Barlow Alleruzzo added 13 points and Johnson scored 12 with 7 assists and 5 steals.

The Panthers play again on Tuesday on the road against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.

On the season, Eastern’s leading scorer has once again been Wallace. He is averaging 17.5 points per game, which ranks second in the OVC. Johnson is second on the team in scoring and 15th in the OVC with 12.4 points per game and ranked sixth in the conference with 4.2 assists per game.

George Dixon leads the Panthers with 6.8 rebounds and 2 steals per game, ranking seventh and fourth in the OVC respectively.


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