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

EIU loses third straight conference game

Sia DeyKoontz
Eastern’s junior guard Corey Sawyer Jr. shoots a contested layup over University of Tennessee-Martin’s junior forward David Kamwanga. The Panthers lost to the Skyhawks 76-59 Thursday evening in Groniger Arena.

Eastern men’s basketball continues to struggle with rebounding as the Panthers lost to the Little Rock Trojans 71-47 Saturday evening in Groniger Arena.

The Panthers got out-rebounded by the Trojans 47-29. This is also the Panthers’ third straight loss.

“I think the battle on the boards was a deciding factor of the game,” freshman guard Isaiah Griffin said.

Eastern’s fifth year forward Jermaine Hamlin led the Panthers in rebounding with seven. Junior forward Rodolfo Rufino Bolis recorded five rebounds and junior guard Corey Sawyer Jr. recorded four to round out 13 of the 29 rebounds for the Panthers.

Little Rock’s freshman forward Jaylen Crocker-Johnson led the Trojans in rebounding with 13. Junior guard KK Robinson recorded nine rebounds and graduate guard Jamir Chaplin recorded eight to round out 30 of the 47 rebounds for the Trojans.

“Ever since we were all little kids, we’ve been taught how to rebound,” Sawyer Jr. said. “Our coaches express to us to box out and rebound, but it’s up to us to do it at the end of the day.”

Without sophomore forward Kooper Jacobi, the Panthers have been struggling with winning the rebounding category against other teams.

“Obviously, not having Jacobi hurts us,” Panthers head coach Marty Simmons said. “He’s our leading rebounder, but that’s part of it. We gotta have guys step up, but it’s something we’ll continue to show video and continue to drill in practice because we understand and value the importance of it.”

Jacobi leads the team in rebounds with 131 rebounds. Jacobi has been ruled out in the past six games due to a foot injury.

“We can’t get out-rebounded by that big of a margin and expect a win,” Panthers’ junior guard NaKyel Shelton said.

Shelton is second for total rebounds for the Panthers with 100 rebounds.

Shelton was also ruled out of Saturday’s game due to a fractured right hand he suffered against the University of Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks on Thursday.

“Nakyel is not only a good basketball player, but he’s a terrific young man,” Simmons said. “I think our guys really like having him out there. I told him in my office on Friday that he has the ability to impact the game but never score a point. He has that kind of character and that kind of love for the game of basketball.”

“[The team] started off slow, and we kinda got back to track after the first half,” Shelton said. “They got a lot of second chances and easy looks to get more chances to score.”

Little Rock led into halftime 31-24, but after a 13-4 run to start the second half, the Trojans continued to create a large margin between them and the Panthers.

Sawyer Jr. led the Panthers in the first half with 11 points.

“We’re down a couple of guys, so I gotta step up and do more things for the team,” Sawyer Jr. said.

Sawyer Jr. ended the game with 14 points and four assists.

The Panthers are now 10-13 overall and 4-6 in conference play. Eastern is in seventh place in the Ohio Valley Conference standings.

Eastern will be on the road as their next game is against Southern Indiana in Evansville, Indiana. Tip-off is scheduled for Thursday evening at 7:30 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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