Panthers have shooting struggles in loss to Huskies

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Ashanti Thomas | The Daily Eastern News

Eastern forward Jermaine Hamlin dunks the ball in Eastern’s win over Rockford on Nov. 18 in Lantz Arena.

Adam Tumino, Sports Editor

The Eastern men’s basketball was on the road for the third time in four games Wednesday as they lost 55-45 to Northern Illinois. 

The Panther offense struggled throughout the game, shooting 15-of-50 from the field including 7-of-28 from three-point range. They started rather strong, getting out to a 12-11, with nine of those points coming off three Kashawn Charles three pointers. 

Eastern head coach Marty Simmons said he was pleased with how the team started the game on offense and how they played defensively in the game, but said there are things that need to get better. 

“I thought that the guys were ready to play… Kashawn hit some shots for us,” he said. “I thought defensively, pretty much throughout the game, our guys competed.”

Simmons added that he thought Northern Illinois would be a good challenge for the defense, and he felt they met that challenge. 

“They’re not an easy team,” he said. “Their guards are quick and athletic, and they got by some, but I thought our rotation defensively was pretty good. I just liked the way our guys continued to compete.” 

The Eastern defense held Northern to 41.2 percent from the field and just 5-of-16 from three. They also forced 18 turnovers from the Huskies. The Panthers were unable to fully capitalize on these turnovers, though, scoring 17 points off turnovers. 

Guard Keshawn Williams led the Huskies with 24 points on 11-of-20 shooting. Guard Trendon Hankerson added 15 points as the only other Northern Illinois player to score in double figures. 

Charles was the leading scorer for the Panthers with 15 points. He shot 5-of-10 from three. The only other Eastern player to score in double figures was forward Jermaine Hamlin, who scored 12 points on 3-of-6 from the field and 6-of-6 from the free-throw line. 

Forward Sammy Friday IV came into the game as Eastern’s leading scorer. The Huskies were able to contain him, as he scored two points in just 11 minutes. 

Simmons said he thought Hamlin did a good job in place of Friday IV. 

“I thought (Hamlin) did both ends,” he said. “He gave us a little bit of offensive punch there in the first half. Defensively I thought he was good. He got some really good blocked shots at the rim, I thought he changed the trajectory of some of the shots.”

This game was the third of the season for the Panthers in which they scored less than 50 points. Simmons said that they need to fix some things offensively as the season progresses. 

“We’ve got to shore some things up on the offensive end, we’ve got to make some shots, we’ve got to finish some shots at the rim, we’ve got to make better decisions in transition,” he said. “I think, had we done those things, we would’ve had a chance at the end.”

Despite the loss, Simmons said that there was a lot in this game to build off of going forward. 

“We had a lot of good things, did a lot of good things tonight,” he said. “We have to build on the good, but we have to continue to learn. We’ve got so many new players that our team has as much growth as any team in America, so we just have to continue to keep a positive attitude and learn and stay together.”

Eastern’s next game will be Saturday when they host North Park at 2 p.m.

 

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