The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

Men’s basketball loses thriller OVC game

Senior+Guard+Jordan+Booker+jumpshot+against+Morehead+State+Thursday+11%2C+2024+evening+in+Groniger+Arena
Sia DeyKoontz
Senior Guard Jordan Booker jumpshot against Morehead State Thursday 11, 2024 evening in Groniger Arena

With a little under three minutes left in the game, junior guard/forward Kyndall Davis grabbed a defensive rebound and went down the court for the dunk, putting the Panthers only four points behind the Leathernecks.

In the next possession for the Panthers, 46 seconds later, Davis got fouled and made both of his free throws.

68 seconds later, senior guard Tiger Booker stole the ball away from Western Illinois’ Quinlan Bennett before getting fouled by Western Illinois’ JJ Kalakon.

Booker made both of his free throws, making the score 60-60 with 97 seconds remaining in regulation.

After the Leathernecks’ Jesiah West made a go-ahead layup, Panthers’ junior guard Corey Sawyer Jr. went for a layup of his own but got blocked by Leathernecks’ Drew Cisse to seal the win for Western Illinois.

“Games like this are heartbreakers, but at the end of the day, it shows us where we need to get better at,” Davis said.

Eastern lost a close game between Western Illinois 60-63 Saturday evening in Groniger Arena.

Because sophomore forward Kooper Jacobi was out with a foot injury, junior forward Rodolfo Rufino Bolis was named a starter against the Leathernecks.

Both Bolis and redshirt sophomore forward Lazar Grbovic saw more minutes on the court due to the lack of healthy forwards ahead of the game.

“Of course, Kooper is obviously a big piece, but I feel like [Grbovic and Bolis] stepped up and did what they needed to do,” Davis said.

Bolis ended the game with two points, two rebounds and one assist.

“I’m glad that I played and that the coach[es] had trust in me,” Grbovic said. “I’m trying to do my best to help the team win games.”

Grbovic ended the game with six points, five rebounds and one steal.

“I think both of our backup bigs came in and gave us good minutes, good physicality and really imposed their will,” junior guard NaKyel Shelton said. “I thought they did great.”

The game went back and forth between the Panthers and the Leathernecks throughout the entire game.

At the end of the first half, the Panthers were behind by one point 32-33 against the Leathernecks.

Although there were miscommunications within the Panthers on defense, the team came back from the half locked in on their opponents.

“We all came together and said that we need to communicate better and not make mental mistakes and talk loud, so we can hear each other in the game,” Shelton said.

Shelton led the Panthers with 16 points, five rebounds and three assists.

Booker commented on the team’s mentality throughout the game and felt that the mentality was one of their biggest strengths against the Leathernecks.

“I feel like our mentality was there,” Booker said. “We fought hard.”

Booker finished with 13 points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals.

“Today, we showed resilience,” Davis said. “There were many times where we could’ve quit, but we didn’t, so I’m glad we fought back in the second half.”

Davis ended the game with 12 points, three rebounds, three assists and three blocks.

Eastern is now 8-10 overall, and the Panthers are now 2-3 in the Ohio Valley Conference.

With this win over Eastern and Morehead State’s loss to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville this afternoon, Western Illinois is now in first place in the OVC with an overall record of 12-6 and a 5-0 record in the conference.

The next game for the Panthers will be against the Lindenwood Lions on Jan. 20 in St. Charles, Missouri.

Tip-off is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

 

Zaria Flippin can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].

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Zaria Flippin
Zaria Flippin, Sports Editor
Zaria Flippin is a junior sports media relations major. This is her first year at The News.

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