Panthers go 0-4 over break, have 3 games canceled


File Photo | The Daily Eastern News

Eastern guard Kejuan Clements handles the ball in transition in the Panthers’ game against North Park on Dec. 4, 2021 in Lantz Arena. Clements had 25 points and 11 assists in the game, which Eastern won 76-71.

Ryan Meyer, Men's Basketball Reporter

The most recent victory for the 2-12 Eastern men’s basketball team was Dec. 4, 2021, a close win over Division III North Park University. Since then, they have gone 0-5 with each game ending with over a 10-point margin of victory. The five-game losing streak is the longest of the 2021-22 season.

Two of the Panthers’ key offensive performers in their three winter break games were CJ Lane and Kejuan Clements. Lane accounted for nearly half of Eastern’s 50 points by dropping 20, and Clements showed more high-scoring potential with 17 at Ball State. Clements’ 25 points in the win against North Park is Eastern’s highest individual point performance of the season.

Paul Bizimana was named OVC Freshman of the Week for his performance against Ball State, where he had 13 points, seven rebounds and three blocks.

Even given these highlighted performances, the Panthers do not have a player averaging over 10 points, with Kashawn Charles and Clements leading the team with 9.2 per game.

Eastern has had trouble controlling the ball this season, where they stand last in the OVC in both assists to turnover ratio and turnover margin. Their turnover margin is -5.07 with the next lowest team being Morehead State at -1.20.

The Panthers are also last in the OVC in scoring offense by a significant margin, averaging 56.7 points per game, with the next closest being Austin Peay at 68.3. The reason for this is apparent in

their field goal percentage, where they make less than 40 percent of their shots, trailing second-to-last SIUE by about three percentage points.

Sammy Friday IV is likely keeping the team from dropping below 35 percent, as he leads the conference in field goal percentage but has the least attempts out of the top 15 and has not scored over 10 points since a Nov. 28 loss to Evansville, where he had 12.

After a few strong performances in November and late December, true freshman Rodolfo Rufino Bolis was quiet during the three winterbreak games, averaging 4.7

points and 4.7 rebounds.
Some of the seemingly bright

spots in offensive production are marred by inefficiency or below-average shooting percentage, like a four-game stretch where Charles averaged 14 points a game and shot over 40 percent from the field but then followed up with two games shooting 25 percent or below.

Eastern ranks within the top five in parts of the OVC in defense, like where they sit fifth in field goal percentage defense, fourth in three-point field goal percentage defense and fourth in blocks, where Jermaine Hamlin contributes 1.7 a game to the team’s 3.9.

After a 63-50 conference loss to 10-5 Morehead State on Dec. 29, the Panthers had three OVC games postponed due to health and safety protocols.

Their first game since Dec. 29 will see them hosting 6-8 Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Thursday.


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