EIU men’s basketball in 8th place in OVC standings after successful weekend


Selena Martinez

Cameron Haffner, a freshman guard, dribbles the ball while being pressured by University of Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks players during the men’s basketball game against the Skyhawks at Lantz Arena Thursday night. Haffner scored 12 points and had three rebounds. The Panthers won 77-75.

Autumn Schulz, Sports Editor

Eastern’s men’s basketball team is on a two OVC game winning streak after defeating UT-Martin at home 77-75 last Thursday evening and SIUE 84-73 on the road Saturday evening. 

The Panthers are now in 8th place in the OVC, improving to 5-9 and 9-18 overall. If the Panthers continue to win, they could lock in a place in the OVC Tournament. 


The Panthers relied on numerous amounts of players to ensure the win last Thursday over the Skyhawks, snapping a six-game losing streak. 

They welcomed back junior guard Kinyon Hodges to the court as he was able to post 14 points, three rebounds, and two assists in the win. 

Hodges said that he had a solid game 

“Feels good,” Hodges said. “You know, it was really my first real game back. I think it’s been about two weeks, so, it felt good.” 

The Panthers battled back and forth with the Skyhawks the entire night. During the first half, the Panthers had a good lead before the Skyhawks went on a 6-0 scoring run. 

The first half also saw the Panthers only having two turnovers while forcing seven. 

“I will say that we took care of the ball, we stayed poise,” Hodges said. “We kept our control on the offense and on defense.” 

However, the Panthers battled back and at the half, they had a 43-32 lead over the Skyhawks. 

Their largest lead came early in the second half after a four-point scoring run by junior center Nick Ellington and two free throws by Hodges. 

It all came down to the last 5 minutes of the game. The Skyhawks had four attempts at free throws and a successful three-point attempt to put them within five points. 

Free throws with seconds to go by Skyhawk guard Jordan Sears put them within two points but the Panthers were able to hang on to their lead. 

Senior guard CJ Lane said that the Skyhawks kept the Panthers on their toes. 

“When they break down the lead like that it kind of puts us on our toes,” Lane said. “We kind of get with the guys and be like ‘let’s go we gotta get some stops.’” 

In addition to Hodges, the Panthers had three players in double digits. Cameron Haffner posted 12, Lane posted 11, and Kyle Thomas posted 10. 

Coach Marty Simmons said that it gives him confidence as a coach to see players step up. 

“Yeah, I’m confident in these guys,” Simmons said. “I believe in these guys. I watch them every day in practice. You know, it’s just sometimes when you are away, you don’t have that game experience. You know, it takes a little time to get back into it.” 


Junior center Nick Ellington scored 15 points in the first half and then went on to score six in the first half, combining for 21 points, his career high. 

Kinyon Hodges posted 17 points and Caleb Donaldson posted 11 to go along with Ellington’s performance. 

The Panthers shot 56.7 percent from the field and 53.8 percent from the three-point line. The Cougars on the other hand shot 41 percent from the field and 19.2 percent from the three-point line. 

Nick Ellington (11), a junior center, puts up the ball in an attempt to score during the men’s basketball game against the Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville Cougars Saturday afternoon at First Community Arena. Ellington led the Panthers scoring 21 points. The Panthers won 84-73. (Han Byer)

The Cougars also had three players in double digits. They were led by Damarco Minor who had 19 points. Shamar Wright had 17 points and DeeJuan Pruitt had 12.  

The Panthers will be back in action this Thursday night against Southeast Missouri in Cape Girardeau, Mo, at 7 p.m. 


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