MILWAUKEE, Wis. -- The Eastern Illinois men’s basketball team not only stuck with a Big East opponent, the Panthers led 30 minutes at Marquette on Monday.

But the lead slipped away from EIU in the final minute of the game. The Golden Eagles made a late charge to force overtime and they took the lead early in the extra period.

EIU stuck with the Golden Eagles in the extra period, but couldn’t get the lead back as Marquette beat EIU 86-83 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

It almost felt like the game slipped away from the Panthers, but EIU coach Jay Spoonhour liked the progress the team has made since a dismal effort against San Diego State last week.

“I’m just sick for them. (Marquette) made some good plays at the end. We really did some great things,” Spoonhour said. “We had a great week of practice. They feel bad in there, but I said look what we’ve done in one week. The feel we had a week ago in San Diego was pretty putrid. You would love to be rewarded for a win.

“We stuck around with them, we defended and did a great job in the second half defending ball screens. It’s too bad, but we have to keep bottling these kinds of efforts.”

Marquette improves to 4-2 with the win and EIU falls to 2-4, but Spoonhour didn’t focus on the loss after the game. Ray Crossland, who didn’t play in the win over Fontbonne on Friday, was on the court for 39 minutes and was key in the Panthers defensive effort.

“We really did a lot of things real well and that’s a really good team,” Spoonhour said. “Ray did great, I couldn’t take him out because he was guarding well. Everybody gets tired and most people succumb to it. Then there’s people like Ray that aren’t going to allow, he’s too stubborn.”

Andrew Rowsey came into the game as the nation’s sixth-leading scorer. Terrell Lewis drew the assignment on him. Rowsey finished with 16 points, but it was below his average of 24 points and he was only 3-of-8 from the field.

Lewis added 10 assists in the game.

“(Lewis), that was as gutsy of an effort, he played for 44 minutes and chased that kid all over the floor and would not get tired,” Spoonhour said. “Those guys that are screening him are 250 pounds and he weighs as much as their legs and he’s bouncing off them and zipping through it. “Rowsey, if you watched last week, he was baking everybody a cake. Boy, (Lewis) did a great job and so did everybody. There wasn’t anybody who wasn’t doing well.”

Jajuan Starks, who finished with 27 points and eight rebounds, helped EIU put its best foot forward on offense right away in the game with a layup, which he was fouled on. Starks made the free throw and the Panthers had a quick 3-0 lead.

The three-point play sparked a 14-3 run to start the game for the Panthers. Montell Goodwin hit a 3-pointer and added a runner during the run.

Back-to-back three’s by Marquette got the Golden Eagles back in the game and the Golden Eagles went on a 17-4 run to take its first lead at 20-18 with 8:57 left in the half.

The Panthers weren’t about to lay back to the Big East squad, though as Crossland quickly tied the game with a tip-in. The two teams traded buckets and Marquette seemed to gain slight control of the game with a 7-3 run to go up 35-32.

But the Panthers grabbed control again before the half. D’Angelo Jackson scored on a layup. Starks hit two free throws and right before the buzzer, Goodwin lost his defender just enough with a spin move and buried the jumper for a 38-35 lead at the half.

After picking up two quick fouls in the first half, Muusa Dama returned in the second half for EIU and made an impact early. He scored on a layup and then a putback kept EIU up 42-33. Dama had four offensive rebounds in the first 5 minutes of the second half to help keep the Panthers up 46-41.

The Golden Eagles tied the game at 46, but EIU had an answer with a 9-2 run, the big blows coming on a Lewis three and a bucket by Dama.

Marquette chipped away again and got it down to 57-56 after three free throws by Andrew Rowsey and a three by Sam Hauser. He ended the game with six 3-pointers and finished with 30 points.

“Hauser, we got too far away. He just makes everything in the second half,” Spoonhour said. “That’s why they won. They couldn’t get the ball to the rim like they have been able to and Hauser jumps up and starts making them.”

EIU answered with a couple of buckets to go back up by five and had an answer to almost every Marquette run.

“Our issue a couple of times was not being able to score when we needed a bucket (this season) and we are getting better at it,” Spoonhour said. “We are starting to think as a group of guys. It takes time and I thought we did a great job of getting the shots we needed to get tonight.”

But Marquette had a run EIU didn’t have an answer to as the Golden Eagles tied the game at 68 with 9 seconds left. Lewis’ three at the buzzer fell short, leading to overtime.

The two teams traded threes to start the extra period, but Marquette got out to a four-point lead and EIU couldn’t find the equalizer. The Golden Eagles made enough free throws and held on for the 86-83 win.


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