Panthers lose 9th-straight game, fall to 0-5 in conference play


Adam Tumino | The Daily Eastern News

Eastern guard Kejuan Clements attempts a layup in Eastern’s game against Southeast Missouri on Saturday in Lantz Arena. Clements scored 14 points in the game, which Eastern lost 87-58.

Ryan Meyer, Men's Basketball Reporter

The Eastern men’s basketball team lost by 25 or more points for the third straight game on Saturday, falling to Southeast Missouri 87-58.

The Panthers’ record dropped to 2-16 overall and 0-5 in the OVC with the loss.

Three of Eastern’s starters put up double-digit points, Dan Luers and Kejuan Clements both with 14 and Paul Bizimana with 10, his fourth double-digit performance in the past seven games.

Luers only missed one shot from the field while leading the team in minutes with over 37, but said his focus is more on winning than personal performance.

“It doesn’t really matter to me to be honest,” Luers said. “When we lose…it doesn’t really matter. I just want to win, honestly.”

Simmons had high praise for Luers after the game.

“Dan’s getting more confidence, Dan’s a smart player, he understands how to play basketball, he’s unselfish and he brings a consistent effort,” Simmons said.

“Obviously I love getting praised by Coach but we all got to play harder, I guess, in order to win so I mean, obviously feels good, but you know, we got to do better,” Luers said. “We got to do what Coach says, so, we’re not, so just got to be better.”

Luers said the team culture has been good but the team needs to focus on improving as a unit.

“We just got to be more focused I feel like on doing the little things every day, but you know I love the guys, everybody loves each other, but we just got to grow as a team,” Luers said.

Simmons also had a lot of praise for veteran forward Sammy Friday IV, who has been battling visible discomfort in his knee throughout the season.

“He’s a guy, even though he’s been out with COVID, and he’s banged up with his knee, and he wants to play, you almost feel an obligation to give him a shot because he cares so much and everything that he’s been through…I can’t say enough positive things about Sammy Friday,” Simmons said. “He’s a terrific young man, he loves to play basketball, he brings a competitive spirit, not only to the games but every day to practice.”

When the Panthers’ deficit starts to stretch in games, Simmons said the goal is to play the type of basketball that they practice.

“Just, and we didn’t do a very good job of it today, but just staying with our system,” Simmons said. “You know, not playing one-on-one, not taking bad shots, but playing with purpose, playing within the confines of what we practice on a daily basis, and not just playing pickup basketball…I thought the other night at Murray even though we got beat pretty good I thought our guys stayed with it, continued to play, today wasn’t as good.”

Eastern will host the third-in-conference Belmont on Monday at 5 p.m.


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