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EIU men's basketball loses, but makes OVC tourney

NASHVILLE — Tennessee State used an 18-1 run midway through the first half to take control of the game during a 75-60 win over Eastern Illinois in an Ohio Valley Conference game. 

EIU fell to 14-15 on the season, 7-9 in the OVC. TSU improved to 9-19 overall 6-10 in the OVC. Despite the loss, EIU did lock up a spot in the upcoming OVC Tournament based on results of other games in the conference earlier in the day.

Eastern Illinois jumped out to an early lead in the first half with balanced scoring.

Tennessee State responded with baskets in transition as the Tigers had a string of four straight trips with 3-pointers knocked down by Kamar McKnight and Michael Littlejohn. TSU used an extended 18-1 run to jump out to a 33-19 lead.

Josiah Wallace snapped the TSU run with his 3-pointer with 5:13 to play in the half. Wallace scored 9 first-half points as he finished with 19 points.

EIU trailed 39-29 at the half despite no field goals in the final 3:47 of the half.

In the second half, both teams traded baskets in the early going before the Tigers could extend the lead to 15 points on a 3-pointer by Littlejohn. The 3-pointer with 15:54 to play in the game put TSU up 52-37. Littlejohn finished with 21 points.

EIU clamped down on defense late in the half as the Tigers went through a stretch of making only one field goal over a seven-minute period.  

However, the Panthers were unable to take advantage, going 1-of-9 from the field during the same time frame.

EIU cut the lead down to 7 points on two occasions; the last on free throws by Wallace with 1:19 remaining that made it 67-60.

TSU closed the game with a 3-pointer by Armani Chaney and five free throws for the final margin.

Ben Harvey added 11 points for EIU in his first collegiate start.

EIU women's basketball falls 70-66

NASHVILLE — Taylor Steele scored a new career-high 23 points at Tennessee State Saturday night on 5-of-7 from 3-point range. The Panthers fell 70-66 in a close battle with the Lady Tigers in their final road game of the year.

EIU is now 10-17 overall and 4-12 in the OVC, while TSU improves to 5-23 overall and 5-11 in the OVC.

The Panthers opened the game with a 6-0 run leading to a 22-15 lead over the Lady Tigers at the end of the first quarter. TSU turned around in the second quarter outscoring EIU 22-13 with a 10-0 run midway through to take the lead for the first time since the first few minutes of the first quarter. Steele would complete a 3-point play in EIU's last possession of the half to bring the Panthers within 2 points.

Steele came out of halftime carrying EIU's offense scoring 11 of their 16 points. She went 3-of-4 from the arc and hit a jumper just out of the paint midway through the third to tie the game 46-46. Grace Lennox would hit a buzzer-beater 3-pointer to tie the game 51-51 heading into the fourth quarter.

The beginning of the fourth quarter was back and forth between the two teams seeing two ties and two lead changes. The Lady Tigers pulled away in the end to win 70-66.

The Panthers shot 48.8 percent from the field and 47.1 percent from the arc. Karle Pace went 10-of-12 at the free-throw line. Her 10 makes was the first time a player has made 10 or more free throws in a game since the 2013-14 season. Pace finished the game with 21 points, four boards, two assists, and two steals. Jalisha Smith also scored double-figures with 11 points. 

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The Panthers will host Jacksonville State on Thursday for Kids Day at Noon. 

EIU softball goes 0-3 over weekend

AUBURN, Ala. — Megan Burton went 3-of-4 at the plate with two RBIs and one run scored as Eastern Illinois softball falls 9-6 to North Dakota State in the final game of the Tiger Invitational. The Panthers fall to 3-11 overall. EIU also lost to Troy 4-3 and Auburn 6-0 Saturday. 

Breya Cooper started things out for EIU Sunday in the top of the first batting Burton in on a double to left center. The Bison responded in the bottom of the first tallying three runs highlighted by a two-run homer take a 3-1 lead. NDSU added another run in the second and by the end of the third inning, the Bison led 9-1.

Burton recorded one of her hits in the top of the fifth with a single to center field to score Mady Poulter. In the top of the sixth, EIU added another run as Denaed Santini scored on Morgan LaMore's grounder to the second baseman. Poulter, Burton, and Jenna Robbins all singled in the sixth through seventh innings to record RBIs, but the Panthers fall 9-6.

Mia Davis and Kendyl McKeough went 2-of-4 at the plate for EIU, while Hannah Cravens went 2-of-3 with one run scored.

Jade Montgomery started on the mound falling to 0-6 on the year. Valerie Thompson and McKenna Coffman also pitched for the Panthers. Coffman tallied four strikeouts.

The Panthers are to travel to Nashville for the Purple and Gold Challenge starting March 2 when EIU plays Appalachian State and Lipscomb at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. at Lipscomb. 

EIU men's tennis comes up short 5-1 at NKU

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. — Eastern Illinois men’s tennis won the doubles point on Saturday but fell short in singles action losing at Northern Kentucky, 5-1. The Panthers lost to Dayton 4-0 Friday. 

EIU fell to 6-8 on the season.

The Panthers picked up wins at number two and number three doubles to open the match taking the first point of the day. Freddie O’Brien and Logan Charbonneau won at number three singles for the second straight day beating Felipe Hidalgo and Anthony Bosch, 6-0

Mike Jansen and Daniel Hernandez clinched the doubles point for EIU with their win at number two doubles. The Panthers tandem beat Nathan Schwartz and Blaine Carr, 6-4.

In singles action, Carr quickly evened the match at 1-1 with his victory over Gage Kingsmith, 6-4, 6-1, at number three singles. The Norse then won points in singles play at number five, six and two singles. The victory by Nathan Schwartz at number two singles over Jansen clinched the match for NKU.

O’Brien’s match at number one singles was left unfinished with O’Brien leading Aleksander Sadal 7-5, 6-6 in the second set. Daniel Hernandez had his match at number four singles left unfinished as he and Jorge Rodriguez were headed to a third set. Hernandez lost the first set 6-4 before winning the second set 6-4.

EIU swimming closes out season in Summit League championships

The Eastern Illinois men's and women's swimming teams ended their 2018-19 season strong earning a combined 20 top-16 finishes in individual events to close the Summit League Championships.

For the men, Greg Hample was sixth in the 100 intermediate A finals in 53.01. Scott House was seventh in the A finals in the 100 freestyle at 45.14., while Griffin Lewis was eighth at 45.73. Alex Adams was seventh in the 200 backstroke A finals in 1:52.17. 

The quartet of Lewis, Forrest Baumgartner, House, and Nick Harkins took silver in 400 freestyle relay at 3:01.91.

On the women's side, Katy Black was 11th overall in the 200 backstroke B finals at 2:08.70.  the quartet of Grace Kennedy, Black, Sarah Lohman and Martee Grainger earned sixth in the 400 freestyle relay in 3:35.54.

Contact Mike Monahan at (217) 238-6854.

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Sports writer

Mike Monahan covers area sports for the JG-TC.

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