Men’s basketball team loses opener to Northwestern


File Photo | The Daily Eastern News

Eastern forward Sammy Friday IV battles with two Chicago State defenders in the paint in a game last December, which Eastern won 78-56.

Autumn Schulz, Assistant Sports Editor

The Marty Simmons’ era for the Eastern men’s basketball team has begun with a mark in the loss column as Northwestern beat the Panthers 80 to 56 Tuesday night at Welsh-Ryan Arena. 

The Wildcats did a good job maintaining their fast tempo in transition throughout the contest as they forced a total of 19 turnovers, allowing 23 of their 80 points to come from the turnovers, and 18 points from fastbreak. 

Head coach Marty Simmons said that turnovers will continue to be a key stat for the Panthers as the season progresses. 

“I think that will be a key stat all year long is our ability to take care of the ball, it was number one on defense and number one on offense because against a team like Northwestern that likes to get out in transition, and you don’t take care of the ball and you take bad shots, we weren’t disciplined in that area,” he said. “We’ve got to learn from it, we’ve really got to improve there, I think if we do then that certainly will give us a chance in a lot of basketball games this year.” 

The first half of the evening sparked good momentum from the Panthers with junior Jermaine Hamlin striking in the paint first, putting the Panthers up 2-0. The Panthers would continue to feed off their momentum with sophomore guard Henry Abraham hitting a three-pointer, followed up by Hamlin with an easy two-foot shot on their next possession, giving the Panthers a 7-0 lead. 

However, the fast pace of the Wildcats would soon catch up with the Panthers as sophomore guard Ty Berry gave the Wildcats their first points of the game with an easy jumper from the field. Junior guard Boo Buie would follow that up with a layup on their next possession, giving the Wildcats a 7-4 advantage.  

Northwestern would continue to control the game as they outscored the Panthers 40-29 in the first half as the Panthers’ defense allowed the Wildcats to shoot 16-of-36 from the field. 

The Wildcats were led offensively by junior guard Boo Buie who had a total of 17 points with senior forward Pete Nance following closely behind with 13 points. Buie also had 5 steals during the game, leading the Wildcats. 

Going into halftime, Northwestern held a 40-29 lead over Eastern, seeming to seal the fate for Eastern. However, The Panthers did not make things easy for the Wildcats as they outscored them 12-10 in the paint during the second half and maintained a 38.1 field goal percentage compared to Northwestern’s 36.4 percent. 

Hamlin led the Panthers this evening with ten points, followed by junior guard CJ Lane with eight points. Freshman forward Rodolfo Rufino Bolis led the way in rebounds for the Panthers with eight. The Panthers were missing a starter, forward Sammy Friday, who averaged 8.9 points per game with seven double figure scoring games last season. 

Simmons said that Sammy has had a great offseason and will contribute to the team building their game from the inside out once he returns to the floor. 

“Sammy has had a great off season, he’s done a great job in practice, he’s experienced and a confident scorer down there. He leads us in rebounding practice and just the confidence he gives other players with his experience, so, we are excited to get him back,” he said. “We’ve got to build our game from the inside out, that doesn’t mean we don’t want to shoot threes because we do, but we want them to be good threes and we feel like the more we can initiate things from the inside, that will open things up on the perimeter.” 

Simmons also feels that junior guard Kejuan Clements, who led the Panthers with seven assists, has the potential to be really special.  

“He’s got a chance to be really, really special. He just got frustrated out there, got off balance, but I like the seven assists,” he said. “He’s all about making his teammates better and I think he’ll learn from this and he’ll continue to improve.” 

Eastern will be back in action on Friday against St. Louis University at 7 p.m. 


Autumn Schulz can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]