Panthers close out regular season with 64-52 loss to Austin Peay


Adam Tumino | The Daily Eastern News

Eastern forward Sammy Friday IV drives toward the basket in the men’s basketball game against Austin Peay on Saturday in Lantz Arena. Friday led the team with 13 points in the game, which Eastern lost 64-52.

Ryan Meyer, Men's Basketball Reporter

The first season of the Marty Simmons era of Eastern men’s basketball is in the books.

It ended without a bang as the Panthers fell 64-52 to the Austin Peay Governors, finishing the season with a 5-26 record overall and going 3-14 in OVC play, finishing last in the conference.

Seniors Sammy Friday IV and Kashawn Charles played well in their last games in Panther blue and white, with Friday notching 13 points on 66.7 percent shooting before fouling out with 9:36 left to play, exiting the floor in Lantz for the final time, this time to a standing ovation.

Jostling for position under the basket with Friday was Elijah Hutchins-Everett, Austin Peay’s standout freshman. Both big men would only miss three shots on their way to 13 points each.

“We was competing, just going back and forth, so just having one last go at it before I leave,” Friday said.

Kashawn Charles provided Eastern with all of their bench points, putting up eight in 31 minutes, helping fill time for the injured Kejuan Clements.

Charles had no trouble reminiscing shortly after the game, having high praises for his teammates, mentioning he believes next year’s Panthers will be among the top in the OVC.

“I got to be around a bunch of guys I’m probably going to know for the rest of my life, and (really be able to) call brothers, people that I really enjoy being around and that I love, just really care for…” Charles said.

The future of the program revolves around freshmen forwards Rodolfo Bolis and Paul Bizimana, both of whom performed well Saturday. Bolis had seven points, five rebounds and two assists, and Bizimana made three three-pointers on his way to ten points.

In the absence of Clements, Dan Luers ran the offense, and did so unselfishly, tallying seven assists in nearly 38 minutes of play.

Micah Schnyders got his second start of the season and led the Panthers in minutes with 38 while going six-for-six from the free throw line.

Simmons noted the toughness of the OVC but also admired the effort given by a team in transition that encountered injuries and transfers throughout the season, often playing through conference matchups with only eight players available.

“I’ve competed against the league many a time,” Simmons said. “It’s tough. It’s tough, and that’s what I’m probably the most proudest is our guys, you know, our record’s not what we wanted it to be, but I feel like for the most part our guys gave tons of effort and they kept competing, they kept trying really hard, and that gives us something to build on.”

The OVC tournament will take place in Evansville starting Wednesday. For the Panthers and head coach Marty Simmons, the rebuild continues.


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