Panthers eliminated from OVC Tournament with loss to Morehead State

Forward+Sammy+Friday+IV+goes+for+a+shot+in+the+paint+at+the+Thursday+game+against+the+Morehead+State+Eagles+at+Lantz+Arena.+Friday+IV+scored+four+points+and+had+four+rebounds.+The+Panthers+lost+82-46+to+the+Eagles.+

Rob Le Cates

Forward Sammy Friday IV goes for a shot in the paint at the Thursday game against the Morehead State Eagles at Lantz Arena. Friday IV scored four points and had four rebounds. The Panthers lost 82-46 to the Eagles.

Autumn Schulz, Assistant Sports Editor

The Eastern men’s basketball team have been mathematically eliminated from postseason play after losing to Morehead State 82-46 Thursday evening in Lantz Arena. 

The Panthers competed with the Eagles in the first half of the game, leading to them only being down 33-22 at halftime. The Panthers shot 31 percent from the field in the first half and 14 percent from the three-point line. Their field goal percentage slightly increased to 36 percent in the second half. 

Head coach Marty Simmons said that the teams’ struggles were mainly offensive and that they thrived better on the defensive side of the ball.  

“We struggled on offense really the whole night. You know, I think that we probably just defended better. You know I think we held them to thirty-three, we just had a hard time,” Simmons said. “They are a really good defensive team and really a lot of things that we had set up to attack, we just didn’t execute very well, and we made it tough. We wanted to get in there and look to make passes to guys on the perimeter and again, our decision making just wasn’t quite what we needed.” 

The Panthers were led by sophomore guard Dan Luers who had 15 points, four rebounds and three assists. Luers was then followed by fellow guard CJ Lane who had 9 points and five rebounds. 

Despite the Panthers putting up a fight in the first half, the Eagles really took control of the momentum and continued to dominate the game after halftime. The Panthers’ 17 turnovers allowed the Eagles to convert them into 25 points. The Eagles also outscored the Panthers in the paint 42-26. 

The Eagles had three players in double figures against the Panthers. Freshman forward Johni Broome led the way with 18 points, nine rebounds, and five blocks. Redshirt junior Jaylon Hall had 14 points to go along with four assists. Junior forward LJ Bryan added ten points and eight rebounds.  

The responsibility of guarding Broome, who is listed at 6’10” and 235 pounds, mainly fell on the shoulders of veteran player Sammy Friday IV. Friday had four points and four rebounds during Thursday night’s contest.  

Friday has played through a knee injury for the majority of the 2021 season. He said that it is a lot of pain to play through, but he has to take whatever he can.  

“For the most part I can tell you that it’s tough, it’s tough,” Friday said. “I have to have two surgeries on the same knee, same injury, and it’s extremely hard but you’ve got to take it day by day. It’s a lot of pain that you’ve got to play through, but you just got to take whatever you can.” 

Simmons said that he Friday really competed against Broome. 

“He competed; Sammy competed. Sammy competes every night,” Simmons said. “I can’t say enough good things about Sammy Friday. He plays through injury, and he cares about everybody. I thought he competed hard.” 

Friday said that Broome is a talented player and that he knows how to use his body while in the paint. 

“Broome is a good player I am not going to lie,” Friday said. “He’s a good player, he’s talented, he doesn’t really fight in the post, but he knows how to use his body and position himself well.” 

The Panthers will have their last game of the season against Austin Peay on Saturday starting at 3:30 p.m. Saturday will also be Senior Day as the team will honor its three seniors.  

Simmons said that he hopes that the team rallies around the seniors to send them off on a good note. 

“It’s Senior Day and again, I have only coached Sammy one year but it’s going to be hard to find somebody that’s given more to a basketball team or program and Kashawn has done a terrific job for us as well,” Simmons said. “Our hope is that everybody can rally around that, and we can send these seniors out on a good note.”  

Senior Day will mark the last time that Friday plays basketball, ever. He said that he is looking forward to it.  

“Senior Day is my last game ever playing basketball so I’m looking forward to it,” Friday said.

 

Autumn Schulz can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]