CHARLESTON, Ill. – Eastern Illinois' Terrell Lewis scored a game-high 24 points on eight three-pointers to lead the Panthers past SIUE 75-60 in Ohio Valley Conference mens's basketball Saturday at Lantz Arena.
The Cougars have dropped nine consecutive games and are 5-18 overall and 0-9 in OVC play. Eastern Illinois, which snapped a five-game losing streak, improved to 10-12 overall and 2-7 in the OVC.
"I give credit where it's due," SIUE Head Coach Jon Harris said. "Like us, they've been struggling. They kind of backed themselves into a corner and they came out swinging. They made shots."
Lewis scored 18 points in the first half on 6-of-9 shooting from three-point range.
"Lewis stepped up and made big shots for them especially early in the game and got them some separation," Harris said. "Coming into the game he was shooting about 20 percent from three-point range, so he really stepped up."
The Cougars trailed 32-41 at the break. The Panthers scored 14 of their points off of 11 SIUE turnovers. For the game, the Panthers turned 17 SIUE turnovers into 20 points.
"That has been our Achilles heel," Harris said. "17 tonight on the road is not going to get it done. Especially when you're not scoring the ball."
After trailing by nine points at halftime, the Cougars trimmed the deficit to single digits only once during the second half. Eastern Illinois pushed the lead to as many as 19 points.
Jalen Henry scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds for the Cougars. Keenan Simmons added 12 points and eight rebounds. Burak Eslik, Josh White and Carlos Anderson scored seven points apiece. Justin Benton scored did not score any points but chipped in eight assists off the bench.
SIUE won the battle in the lane, scoring 26 points in the paint compared to just 16 for Eastern Illinois.
"We haven't won that battle a lot," Harris said of the total. "We did some good things. I just don't think we were quite as aggressive as we needed to be on either end."
Aside from Lewis, Ray Crossland led EIU with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Demetrius McReynolds scored 16 points.
EIU outrebounded SIUE 34-32 and hauled in 12 offensive rebounds, netting 14 second-chance points.
SIUE remains on the road for a nationally-televised contest against OVC-leading Belmont Monday.
"Belmont is undefeated for a reason," Harris added. "They can really score the ball. We're going to have to find a way to slow them down."
Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. with the game to air on CBS Sports Network.