Eastern Illinois' hot hands burn Southeast for 87-75 road victory.
By Marty Mishow ~ Southeast Missourian
Henry Domercant scored 35 points Saturday night -- but he was far from the only reason Eastern Illinois blistered Southeast Missouri State University 85-75 in the Ohio Valley Conference opener for both teams.
Domercant, the nation's second-leading scorer who entered the contest averaging 26.5 points, did his share to disappoint a crowd of 4,392 at the Show Me Center.
But the senior guard had plenty of help from his teammates as the Panthers blistered the nets for 57.4-percent field-goal shooting -- including 70.4 percent in the second half -- and 66.7-percent from 3-point range (10 of 15).
The onslaught turned what most people expected to be a tight affair into a breeze for the Panthers (5-7), who led by 19 points with a little more than one minute remaining. A late flurry by Southeast (5-7) made things semi-interesting, but the Indians never seriously threatened EIU.
"I really expected a close game to the end, but you have to give credit to our kids," EIU coach Rick Samuels said. "That's as good a game as we've had this year."
Southeast coach Gary Garner heaped praise on the Panthers and also came away disappointed with his team's effort.
"We kind of ran into a buzzsaw. They played extremely well and shot extremely well," Garner said. "But I also thought Eastern Illinois played harder than we did. I was really disappointed in our effort for the first time in a long time. It wasn't a bad effort, but we could have played a lot harder."
Domercant put on his usual show against the Indians. After scoring 77 points in two games against Southeast last year, he hit 14 of 17 from the field Saturday night -- including all five of his 3-point attempts -- while also grabbing five rebounds, dishing out six assists and recording four steals.
"I've seen Henry do a lot of things, but how about that line," Samuels said.
Domercant was quick to praise his partners.
Junior forward Jesse Mackinson, averaging 10 points, scored 18 on 9-for-13 shooting, most of the attempts coming on jumpers from about 15 to 17 feet.
And junior forward David Roos, averaging just 3.5 points, added 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting.
"That's one of the things we've been talking about, getting more scoring options," Domercant said.
Said Garner, "Domercant had an awesome performance. He goes 14 for 17 and most of his shots were tough shots. We had a hand in his face. Mackinson goes nine for 13. We didn't know he had that kind of range."
Southeast was led by Derek Winans with 23 points, but he scored just three first-half points as he missed all but one of his six field-goal attempts in the opening period. Winans did wind up 8-for-16 from the floor, including 4-for-7 from 3-point range, with a strong second half.
"You've got to give them credit. They came to play and shot the ball well," Winans said.
Damarcus Hence added 15 points for the Indians. Also in double figures were Demetrius King with 13 -- he hit three of five 3-pointers -- and Brett Hale with 10. As a team, Southeast hit 11 of 22 3-pointers. Kevin Roberts dished out seven assists and Winans added six.
"The first game really sets the tone for the rest of the conference (season)," King said. "Losing at home is disappointing."
Southeast actually started strong, hitting four of its first five shots in building an early 10-2 lead.
But the Panthers quickly caught fire and opened up a 36-27 halftime advantage. They steadily pulled away in the second half, leading twice by 21 points.
Ahead 83-64 after Domercant's 3-pointer with 1:11 remaining, the Panthers saw the Indians -- thanks to several turnovers caused by the press -- score 11 points in 37 seconds. Winans hit two 3-pointers and scored on a drive and King deposited a 3-pointer as Southeast made it 83-75 with 34 seconds left. But the Indians could get no closer.
"We tried to come back, but we just couldn't do it," Winans said.
Despite shooting 55.2 percent in the second half, the Indians where overwhelmed by the Panthers' offensive efficiency. And EIU, not noted as a strong rebounding team, had a 34-25 edge on the boards.
"Our offense was fine, we just couldn't stop them," Garner said. "And they kicked out butts on the boards, and they're not a good rebounding team. That shows they played harder than us."Noteworthy
***As expected, Garner announced Saturday that junior-college transfer forward Reggie Golson will seek a medical redshirt after appearing in only one game this season because of knee troubles.
Golson should have no problem receiving the redshirt from the NCAA, meaning he would have two years of eligibility remaining beginning next season.