Hodges, Ellington help men’s basketball to third OVC win


Han Byer

Eastern guard, Kinyon Hodges (10), attempts a jump shot while Little Rock guard, Myron Gardner (15) attempts to block his shot in Lantz Arena. The Panthers won 10-63 against the Trojans on Saturday evening.

Autumn Schulz, Sports Editor

The spark that the men’s basketball team needed came late in the second half.  

The Panthers had a 34-25 lead at halftime during Saturday’s OVC matchup against Little Rock but slowly but surely, the Trojans chipped away and tied the game 55-55 with just a little under five minutes to go. 

Overall, there were 11 lead changes and six times throughout the game that the score was tied. 

However, a series of steals, dunks, and a 10-2 offensive run by the Panthers would seal the 70-63 win. 

A big part of the offensive run was junior center Nick Ellington. Ellington came off the bench to start the second half, scoring a career-high 23 points, while also adding nine rebounds, five blocks, and two steals. 

Two of Ellington’s blocks were during the vital run as both blocks then turned into a fast break opportunity for the Panthers. 

The Panthers are now 3-3 in the OVC and 7-12 overall. 

Junior guard Kinyon Hodges said that Ellington always comes through for his teammates. 

“Nick was very big,” Hodges said. “Nick comes in with energy, rebounds, he plays defense, he blocks shots. He does all the things that you want, you know, your big men to do. He was a big spark in the second half.” 

Eastern center, Nick Ellington (11) dunks the ball on a breakaway during their game against Little Rock in Lantz Arena. The Panthers won 70-63 against the Trojans Saturday evening. (Han Byer)

Hodges also had a big day for the Panthers as he led the team with a career-high 23 points, making it his third-straight double-digit performance, and his third-straight game leading the Panthers in points. 

Ellington had a lot of praise for his teammate. He said that Hodges is a generational talent.  

“Watching him come in and do what he do in games and then seeing what he do in practice, like, you know you’re a special type of kid. Being around it every day and getting to witness it on a day to day basis. That’s something you’re not going to see.” 

It was a highly physical and defensive game for the Panthers as they were able to get 12 steals, helping them get 24 fast break points and 20 points off turnovers. 14 of those turnovers were forced in the first half alone. 

The Panthers also outworked the Trojans in the paint 36-22. 

Graduate student Yaakema Rose Jr. was also a factor in the Panthers’ 10-2 run in the second half. He was put on the free throw line, once to tie the game at 55-55 and another time to give the Panthers the 68-58 lead. 

Rose Jr. had 15 points, eight assists, five rebounds and two steals to end the game. 

Head coach Marty Simmons said that in order to win, you have to have multiple guys play well and the Panthers did that against the Trojans. 

“He [Nick] really gave us a lift,” Simmons said. “Kinyon played well and Sincere Malone, I thought he was really active and did a great job on Gordon, Gordon is a heck of a player.” 

The Panthers will head to Nashville, Tennessee to take on the 2-4 Tennessee State Tigers on Thursday at 8 p.m. 


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