Eastern Illinois led by sixteen points with 7:18 remaining but the Panthers had to hold on in the final seconds as EIU held off Southeast Missouri for a 71-68 win on Saturday.
Casey Teson sparked a 13-2 run early in the second half as the Panthers opened the second half extending a 30-29 halftime advantage to double figures. Cornell Johnston started the EIU run at the 15:49mark with a free throw. Teson scored eight of his 14 points during the run that covered three minutes, four seconds. Marshawn Blackmon added four points in the run.
Teson’s 3-pointer with 7:18 to play gave the Panthers their biggest lead of the second half with a 64-48 advantage.
The Panthers then went cold over the final portion of the game. EIU hit two of its last ten shots as SEMO was able to slowly climb back into the game. Johnston ended EIU’s drought with 38 seconds remaining with a 3-pointer that gave EIU a 69-61 lead. Johnston finished with nine points, seven assists.
Isiah Jones closed the lead to 69-64 with a 3-pointer with 29.6 remaining. Jones had 11 points, one of four SEMO players in double figures.
The Panthers missed the front end of two one-and-ones allowing SEMO to stay alive. Joel Angus III closed the EIU margin to 69-66 with 18 seconds to play. Angus had a double-double with 13 points, 13 rebounds.
Demetrius McReynolds missed a chance to ice the game with 7.8 seconds but could not convert at the foul line. Following a missed 3-pointer by SEMO to tie the game, McReynolds pulled down the rebound and made both free throws to give EIU a five point lead. McReynolds had his second straight double-double for EIU with 19 points, 12 rebounds.
SEMO made a basket as time expired for the final three point difference. Antonius Cleveland had ten of his 14 points for SEMO in the first half. Trey Kellum added 11 points. SEMO fell to 5-23, 2-13 in the OVC.
Trae Anderson had 12 points for EIU. The Panthers shot 55 percent from the floor in the second half as they improved to 12-16 overall, 8-7 in the OVC.
EIU closes out the regular season Thursday hosting Murray State in Lantz Arena. The game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.