Panthers get 1st home win of conference season


Rob Le Cates | The Daily Eastern News

Paul Bizimana, a freshman forward, gets picked up by his teammates after making a late basket in the men’s basketball game on Saturday against Tennessee State Tigers at Lantz Arena. Bizimana had 20 points and 6 rebounds. The Panthers won 62-57 against the Tigers.

Ryan Meyer, Men's Basketball Reporter

The Eastern men’s basketball team won their second straight game, beating Tennessee State 62-57 for their first OVC home win.

The Panthers went into halftime up one but an 18-point second half by the Tigers’ Carlos Marshall Jr. put the Panthers down 10 with under 11 minutes left to play.

Eastern continued to chip away at the lead until the tide shifted in an instant with a Dan Luers three pointer, a Paul Bizimana steal and a layup through a foul to put them up two after Bizimana drained one of his seven free throws.

Bizimana, who had 20 points and 6 rebounds, described the play that put Eastern ahead for the rest of the game.

“I was just in a great defensive position, so I knew I could just get the steal and go and I was confident enough to just make a move and make the shot,” Bizimana said.

Clutch free-throw shooting put the game away, including two Sammy Friday IV makes with a little over two minutes left. Friday was 6-for-6 from the line Saturday. Going into the game he was shooting roughly 40 percent on free throw attempts.

Bizimana said free-throw shooting helped the Panthers, likely due to the 100 a day they shoot in practice.

The Panthers have been playing with limited numbers, but head coach Marty Simmons said everyone on the team has been during their part.

“When you only have eight guys, we need everyone to contribute, and they have been,” Simmons said.

Micah Schnyders had both a career high in points and minutes coming off the bench, with 12 and 29:33 respectively, and attributed being on the court during crunch time to the maximum effort he displayed.

“Tonight I really just wanted to give my best effort on both ends, just play as hard as I could and talk and do the little things and I guess Coach thought I was doing that stuff well, so he trusted me at the end, so I’m glad I didn’t disappoint,” Schnyders said.

Sticking to the gameplan has been the key to their two OVC victories, victories that put them in the conversation for the OVC tournament.

“I think we learned more probably in the one game win down there at Martin, as far as just staying with it and not giving in to it, even if it might not be the prettiest thing in the world, if we just play it possession by possession, just give ourselves a chance at the end, then good things can happen and sure enough that’s what happened today,” Simmons said.

Eastern heads to Edwardsville Thursday to play SIUE, and Simmons hopes the team can use the four-day break to rest and get ready for a three-game road stretch.

“We approach them all the same, like they’re the national championship, we prepare and our players put a lot of time and effort in, they’re a long, athletic team, we’ve been banged up here a

little bit, so we’ve got a little bit of time here, hopefully we can heal up a little bit, reenergize the batteries, and it’ll take 40 minutes of good basketball to have a chance to win down there,” Simmons said.


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