Panthers beat Rockford 96-64 for 1st win of season


Ashanti Thomas | The Daily Eastern News

Eastern forward Sammy Friday IV makes a move in the paint during Thursday night’s game against Rockford in Lantz Arena. Friday IV set a new career high with 21 points in the game, which Eastern won 96-64.

Ryan Meyer, Men's Basketball Reporter

Eastern’s men’s basketball team secured their first win of the season at home Thursday against Rockford University 96-64, improving their record to 1-3. 

Sammy Friday IV had a good Thursday, going to work in the paint against the Regents with 13 points in the first half and finishing with 21 for a new career high to go with seven rebounds. His performance was representative of Eastern’s dominance in the paint, scoring 58 to Rockford’s 18. 

The Panthers had six players score double digits: Friday IV, Rodolfo Rufino Bolis (14), CJ Lane (11), Henry Abraham (15), Kejuan Clements (12) and Jermaine Hamlin (12). 

Head coach Marty Simmons attributed the scoring spread in his first win as Eastern’s head coach to selflessness and good shot selection. 

“I think for the most part, we were unselfish,” Simmons said. “We had 21 assists and had we finished some of those layups around the basket it would have been better, but I thought our guys did a good job of giving up a good one to maybe get a better one.” 

Rockford had three players score in double digits in TJ Lacey (16), DJ Bonds (15) and Zac Centers (11). 

Rufino Bolis was efficient in his 23 minutes, going 7-of-11 with nine rebounds, including six offensive rebounds against a smaller Rockford team. 

Those offensive rebounds were a result of practice and effort, Rufino Bolis said. 

“We always practice offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, so I think there’s going to be a lot,” Rufino Bolis said. “Also, you have to fight. You have to have some effort and I think it’s like a combination of both like the practice you have and then the extra effort that I have in the game.” 

The Panthers shot 62.7 percent from the field and 40 percent from three in their most efficient offensive showing yet. The bench provided 23 points, led by Hamlin’s 12. 

Clements continues his solid all-around season, grabbing five rebounds and dishing out seven assists to go with his 12 points. Clements and fellow guard Abraham led the team in minutes, both playing over 32 minutes. 

It was a strong defensive showing as well, in large part because of Elijah Wood’s and Chris Robinson’s three steals a piece and Hamlin adding another three blocks to his conference-leading 3.5 a game. 

A true freshman, it was Rufino Bolis’s first college win, and he said winning by such a margin felt good. 

“It’s really good to win all times, even like that’s better,” Rufino Bolis said.


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