Panthers lose to Billikens in 2nd game of season


File Photo | The Daily Eastern News

Eastern forward Sammy Friday IV attempts a layup agaisnt Morehead State on Jan. 14, 2021, in Lantz Arena. Eastern lost that game 87-61.

Ryan Meyer, Men's Basketball Reporter

Eastern’s men’s basketball team dropped to 0-2 after an 86-44 loss at Saint Louis University Friday evening.
The Billikens had four players score double-digits, with the game high coming from Gibson Jimerson, who had 18. Forward Francis Okoro had a double-double with 11 points and 12
rebounds and guard Yuri Collins had 11 points, three rebounds and six assists.
Eastern’s head coach Marty Simmons had high praises to sing for the now 3-0 Saint Louis Billikens.
“I think their style of play was really hard for us,” Simmons said. “We knew what we were getting into, we prepared for it, we watched them, they’re really physical, they do a great job with their switching, and they’re active with their hands, they’re very athletic, very quick, super aggressive.”
Eastern’s highest scorers were C.J. Lane and Henry Abraham, with 10 and nine points respectively. Abraham shot 50 percent from three-point range, making three of six. The two guards and Rodolfo Rufino Bolis combined for over half of the Panthers’ points, with the freshman forward contributing six.
While Eastern only shot 28 percent from three-point range, they outshot the Billikens, who shot 20 percent. The Panthers’ shooting from the field was 26 percent, while Saint Louis shot 49 percent.
The Billikens’ bench provided more scoring than Eastern’s, getting 30 from the reserves while Eastern had 19.
The Panthers were outdone in both rebounds, 49-25, and assists, 15-4.
Eastern struck first with a Kejuan Clements jumper, but never saw the lead again as the Billikens went on a 12-0 scoring run.
The last six and a half minutes of the first half saw Saint Louis go on a 24-2 run to end the half up 50-16.
The Panthers have turned the ball over 38 times in their first two games, which Simmons said has been something he’s emphasized in practice.
“The frustrating thing…is we’ve talked about a lot of this for a large portion of our practices, and we as staff, and really tonight’s on me, I didn’t have the guys ready to go, but it’s a two-way street,” Simmons said. “You got to learn, you got to listen, you can’t always have success at our level the same way you had it from the level that you’re coming from.”
Simmons said that the key going forward will be playing into the team’s offensive strategy, which involves getting players open for better shots.
“We don’t have those guys that are just going to blow by guys in one-on-one situations, but if we do a good job setting up cuts and screening guys, not only will cutters get good looks, but screeners will get good looks, and we can attack closeouts, but too many times we’re wanting to just beat our guy one-on-one, and we just don’t have those type of guys.”
The Panthers will play Central Michigan at Lantz Monday evening for Simmons’s first home game as head coach.


Ryan Meyer can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]