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

Former Panther secures conference win for Tigers

Immanual Johnson
Tigers’ senior guard Kinyon Hodges defends Panthers’ junior guard Nakyel Shelton. Eastern lost to Tennessee State 64-60 in Groniger Arena on Jan. 27, 2024.

With 42 seconds left in regulation, former Panther and current Tiger Kinyon Hodges made a midrange jumper that helped the Tigers seal the 64-60 win over the Panthers Saturday evening in Groniger Arena.

Eastern’s junior guard NaKyel Shelton received his fourth foul of the game as he tried to block Hodges’ shot. Hodges made the lone free throw to give the Tigers a 61-58 lead over the Panthers.

“You know I love my midrange, so when I caught the ball, I was ready to take the shot,” Hodges said.

Eastern’s senior guard Tiger Booker made a contested layup to give the Panthers a chance to take a lead with 32 seconds left in regulation, but after Shelton received his fifth foul, the Panthers were at a total of 10 fouls in the second half.

Tennessee State’s junior guard Justin Williams hit two free throws with a little less than 10 seconds left in regulation as the Panthers could not obtain any more points.

“As a team, we brought everything we had,” sophomore forward Sincere Malone said. “We could’ve done better. The results didn’t show the way we wanted them to, but I feel like as a team, we fell through tough times, and we came back together.”

Booker and Shelton led in scoring for the Panthers with 18 points each. Junior guard Corey Sawyer Jr. was right behind Booker and Shelton as he recorded 13 points against the Tigers.

“This was a tough lose,” Sawyer Jr. said. “We just let that one slip away.”

Eastern went on a 12-6 run to close out the first half two points ahead of Tennessee State (TSU).

“We showed a lot of toughness in the first half,” junior guard/forward Kyndall Davis said. “I feel like we just let it slip out of our hands late. I feel like we’re making a lot of the same mistakes, but we just have to correct them.”

Hodges, a senior guard for the Tigers, transferred to TSU after playing with Eastern in the 2022-2023 season.

“It felt good to get the win,” Hodges said. “I had to get the win. There’s no question about that.”

Hodges finished the game with 12 points, eight rebounds and two assists for the Tigers.

Hodges played with Malone, junior guard Dan Luers and junior forward Rodolfo Rufino Bolis before he decided to transfer to TSU.

“It was really a bittersweet moment,” Malone said about playing his former teammate. “Of course, I don’t like losing, but it was good seeing him happy somewhere.”

With this loss, the Panthers are currently 10-11 overall and 4-4 in Ohio Valley Conference play.

Before the game, there was a five-way tie for third place in the OVC. With this loss, Eastern is now ranked seventh out of 11 teams in the OVC.

The next game for the Panthers is against University of Tennessee at Martin on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in Groniger Arena.


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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