By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
CHARLESTON, Ill. – The Tennessee Tech men's basketball team couldn't overcome the sizzling touch of Eastern Illinois from beyond the 3-point arc Saturday afternoon, falling on the road 79-71 at Lantz Arena in Charleston.
The Golden Eagles (16-9, 8-4) led the Panthers (8-15, 4-8) at the break, despite a 4-for-6 showing from downtown by the home team over the first 20 minutes. Graduate transfer Shaq Calhoun paced the Tech offense in the first half, scoring a whopping 17 points on 6-for-9 shooting, including a 4-for-6 effort from 3-point range.
The Panthers simply couldn't miss in the second half, hitting seven of its 11 shots from deep in the second half and 62.5 percent of its attempts from the floor to go up by as many as 13 points with just over three minutes to play.
Showing the relentless attitude it's displayed all year, the Tech squad battled back down the stretch, using four triples over the final two minutes to cut the deficit to just four points with 31 seconds to play. Eastern Illinois finished down the stretch, however, knocking down its free throws when it counted to hold on.
It marked the first loss of the season for Tech when it led at halftime and also represented just the second loss of the year by single digits. The Golden Eagles were an impressive 10-1 in single-digit games headed into the contest.
The Tech offense struggled at times, finishing just 37.1 percent from the floor and 68.4 percent from the free throw line. The Golden Eagles did manage a 12-for-28 performance from the 3-point line, a 42.9 percent showing.
On the flip side, Eastern Illinois turned in one of its best offensive days of the year, shooting 55.1 percent from the field, 64.7 percent from downtown and 70.0 percent from the charity stripe.
EIU's Mack Smith led all scorers with 31 points, thanks in large part to a 5-for-7 day from deep. Montell Goodwin added 23 for the Panthers, including seven free throws.
Calhoun was the lead man for the Golden Eagle offense, dropping 23 points on 6-for-8 shooting from beyond the arc, despite being held to 27 minutes due to second-half foul trouble. He also managed three assists.
Courtney Alexander II gathered 10 points and seven rebounds in the game while also doling out three helpers. Mack turned in 13 points, including three triples while Mason Ramsey added 10 points and five boards.
The Golden Eagles will wrap up their three-game road stretch next Thursday evening with trip south to Jacksonville State. The contest is scheduled for an 8:00 p.m. CT tip with the contest scheduled to air live on ESPNU.
Photo by Tony Marable