CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — The Eastern Illinois men’s basketball team was already without starting point guard Terrell Lewis, who has missed the last few games with an ankle injury.
The Panthers were adapting to not having Lewis on the court with D’Angelo Jackson and Montell Goodwin sharing ball-handling duties.
But then 2 minutes into the game against Austin Peay on Saturday, Jackson came down awkwardly on his left ankle and had to be helped off the court. Jackson didn’t return to the game, leaving the Panthers short of another ball-handling guard.
The Panthers were able to make due without Lewis and Jackson for about half of the game, but the Governors took the lead at halftime and didn’t give it up.
EIU kept the game tight for the first part of the second half, but an offensive drought allowed Austin Peay to build a double-digit lead as the Governors went on to win 70-54 on Saturday at the Dunn Center.
The Panthers (4-9, 0-2 Ohio Valley Conference) were held to 36.2 percent (21-of-58) shooting, including 29.6 percent (8-of-27) in the second half.
"We put so much pressure on our defense to be good all of the time because we are having such a hard time getting baskets," EIU coach Jay Spoonhour said. "When you lose DJ, when (Lewis) went out, let's cobble something together to get baskets. You do that and D'Angelo, he's not a point guard but he's doing it for us, and not two minutes in, it's like, 'Now how are we going to get a bucket?' It's sort of what you saw."
Spoonhour said Jackson dislocated his ankle and that he will have an MRI.
"It doesn't sound very good, but you never know," Spoonhour said. "Sometimes there's not a lot of structural damage."
The Panthers were also outrebounded 46 to 29 in the game. EIU's leading rebounder Muusa Dama only played 17 minutes in the game because of foul trouble throughout and was held to no rebounds. Austin Peay came away with 17 rebounds, and seven came from the combination of Terry Taylor and Averyl Ugba. Both players had 11 rebounds each for the Governors.
"Muusa just never really could get into the game," Spoonhour said. "The fouls he got, they drove it right at him and he gets blocks on two calls that were tough, but they were fouls. He wasn't going up and doing it himself, the fouls were coming to him. But it doesn't change the fact that he had to sit a lot and never did get going."
Montell Goodwin scored 21 points and hit five 3-pointers in the loss. Jajuan Starks and Ray Crossland each finished with 10 points.
Austin Peay jumped out to a 6-2 lead when Spoonhour called a timeout. EIU came out of the break and forced a missed layup, blocked a shot and Austin Peay missed a jumper. The Panthers scored after each defensive stand. Goodwin and Mack Smith each hit 3-pointers and Crossland had a layup as EIU went up 10-6.
Zach Glotta provided a spark for Austin Peay with a three to give the Governors a 13-12 lead. He added a jumper and another 3-pointer to give Austin Peay an 18-15 advantage.
Jajuan Starks scored on a dunk and a layup to give EIU the lead again at 19-18, and the lead went back and forth between the two teams.
Goodwin hit some big shots to keep EIU up 33-29 with 3:11 left in the first half. But the Panthers didn’t score in the final 3 minutes of the half and the Governors went on a 7-0 run to take a 36-33 lead going into halftime.
"They went to a zone and we didn't do very well against it," Spoonhour said. "We attacked it OK a couple of possessions and (Goodwin) got a wide-open look that you gotta take. (Lucas Jones) got a decent look. But it kind of changed the last couple of minutes."
Chris Porter-Bunton hit a 3 to start the second half and Tre Ivory added a free throw to give Austin Peay a 40-33 lead.
EIU chipped away and made it a two-point game on Ray Crossland’s traditional three-point play to cut the Governors’ lead to 43-41.
Austin Peay went up 47-41 when Goodwin hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 3 points with 11:57 remaining. However, the Panthers only hit 1-of-11 shots over the next 7 minutes. Austin Peay went on a 14-2 run to take a 61-46 lead with about 5 minutes left.
EIU got a dunk from Crossland to break the drought, but the Panthers couldn’t make up the deficit and Austin Peay went on to win 70-54.
"Defensively I thought we were fine, but when we needed some big stops, they would get an offensive board or we would leave a guy and they would make it," Spoonhour said. "We will need to regroup and go get them next week."