Thursday night, Eastern Illinois scored just eight points in the last fifteen and a half minutes of the first half. Tonight, the Panthers scored just six points in the opening 12:48, as Morehead State leads most of the way in a 65-50 win at home.
Despite the slow start, Eastern Illinois was within three in the second half after a Josh Piper three with 15:03 remaining. But Morehead State would go on a 10-0 run over 3 minutes, allowing the Eagles to pull away for the sizable win.
Morehead State won the battle of the boards big for the second straight game. This time, though, it was the guards getting it done, with Maurice Lewis-Briggs leading the way with 9, and Angelo Warner pulling down seven. The Eagles scoring was evenly distributed with Briggs, Warner, and Drew Kelly all scoring a team-high 11 points. The double-digit effort from Kelly is his third straight, after struggling through much of non-conference play. Despite a slower pace than Morehead State is used to, the Eagles still turned the ball over 22 times, but forced 21 from Eastern Illinois, outscoring the Panthers 15-4 on fast break points. Chad Posthumus, who had 19 rebounds two nights ago pulled down just four tonight, but also had four blocks.
Freshman Alex Austin was held in check, shooting just 2-11 from the field. Piper was back in double figures, as was Sherman Blanford, who scored a game-high 14 points. No Panther pulled down more than four rebounds on the night, as Eastern Illinois was out rebounded by 15. After shooting just 6-19 (31.6%) in the first half, EIU finished the night 40% from the floor, and 7-16 from behind the arc.
Morehead State wants to run, but many of the players on the squad were recruited by Donnie Tyndall to win battles inside, and it shows with another huge night on the glass. The Eagles are off to a good start in conference play, with two home wins, but both have come against sub-.500 teams in the West Division.
Eastern Illinois continues to go through long periods of struggle on the offensive end of the basketball. While it was expected, it’s amazing how consistently it’s happening in the early parts of games. Normally, teams struggle offensively late in halves when they get away from the gameplan, but not so with Eastern Illinois. Every teams go through droughts, but the Panthers need to shorten them from their current 10+ minutes.
Eastern Illinois has their first conference homestand next week, hosting Tennessee Tech (6-9, 0-3) and Jacksonville State (10-5, 2-2). Morehead State hits the road with a Wednesday game at Austin Peay (4-12, 0-2) before heading just down the road to rival Eastern Kentucky. (12-3, 2-0)