Panthers suffer home loss to Tennessee Tech Thursday


Rob Le Cates | The Daily Eastern News

Freshman forward Paul Bizimana shoots a ball at Thursday’s mens basketball game against Tennessee Tech at Lantz Arena. Bizimana led with 17 points and had 4 rebounds. The Panthers lost 73-62 to the Golden Eagles.

Ryan Meyer, Men's Basketball Reporter

The Eastern men’s basketball team lost their third straight game Thursday night to Tennessee Tech despite having three players score in double digits.

The Panthers never led in the 73-62 loss, although there were moments in the second half where they cut it to as little as three. The momentum seemed to shift in their favor after Kejuan Clements finished through a foul and made the free throw and Paul Bizimana got a steal and converted in transition on the following defensive possession.

Bizimana was one of the three with a double-digit performance, adding a 17-point game to his increasingly impressive freshman-year resume. Dan Luers only missed two shots on his way to a 13-point game, and Kashawn Charles had 13 coming off the bench.

Eastern’s head coach Marty Simmons had high praises for Bizimana, who has only started nine games but is one of the Panthers’ most dynamic scorers.

“He’s a talented young man and he works hard,” Simmons said. “He pays attention, he’s got some natural, God-given gifts. Paul wants to be good and he’s gotten some confidence now, and I think that’s really helped him a lot.

Simmons attributed the loss to a slow start that at one point saw the Panthers down 28-7.

“We just didn’t get off to a very good start here today, and Tennessee Tech I’m sure had something to do with that,” Simmons said. “Although I thought we missed some pretty good looks in the first part of the game there, a couple inside baskets that we didn’t finish, a couple open threes.”

While Eastern did mount a comeback, it came a little too early as Tennessee Tech was able to put the game away with a few three-pointers.

Simmons noted that the Panthers weren’t able to maintain their climb but still admired their tenacity.

“But I’m really proud of our guys, they hung in there and they battled and they fought their way back,” Simmons said. “You just got to be able to sustain it and finish things off and we just weren’t able to do it.”

Bizimana attributed the team’s mindset to a willingness to play hard regardless of any perceived outcomes.

“Really just don’t give up,” Bizimana said. “If we’re going to lose, might as well lose with a fight and if we’re coming back might as well try to win it.”

Eastern hosts UT-Martin on Saturday. The Panthers beat the Skyhawks in their last matchup 58-53.


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