Indians' defense faltered vs. EIU

Monday, January 6, 2003

On the surface, it appears that Southeast Missouri State University played a solid game Saturday night in its Ohio Valley Conference opener against visiting Eastern Illinois.

The Indians shot 46.6 percent from the field -- including 50 percent from 3-point range on 11 of 22 -- and had only 11 turnovers while recording 24 assists.

But a failure to even remotely slow down the Panthers' offense was the difference as EIU romped 85-75, the contest not being nearly as close as the final score suggests.

"We just couldn't stop them," Southeast coach Gary Garner said.

As a result, both teams are now 5-7 overall. But the Indians suffered a potentially damaging home loss to start their conference schedule.

"It's really disappointing to lose the first conference game, especially when it's at home," Garner said. "But we can't let this one get us down. We have to go forward from here. We still have 15 conference games left."

EIU hit 35 of 61 field-goal attempts for 57.4 percent. The Panthers made 10 of 15 3-pointers for 66.7 percent. In the second half, they shot a robust 70.4 percent on 19 of 27 as they pulled away from a 36-27 halftime advantage to lead by as many as 21 points and by 19 with a little more than one minute left.

As expected, EIU senior guard Henry Domercant did plenty of damage as he poured in 35 points. Despite facing tight defense most of the game, the nation's second-leading scorer hit 14 of 17 shots and made all five of his 3-point attempts.

Winning at the Show Me Center, where the Panthers had lost four in a row, was especially sweet for Domercant.

"It's definitely a great feeling," Domercant said. "I can remember two years ago, Emmanuel McCuthison I think got a tip over my back to win the game. I felt so bad.

"To be a to contender in this league, you have to get wins on the road. Coming in here and getting this one really helps us out."

Now the Indians will attempt to do just what the Panthers did Saturday -- win on the road. Southeast plays its next two OVC games away from the Show Me Center, visiting Eastern Kentucky Thursday night and Morehead State Saturday night.

As the Indians prepare for that tough trip to Kentucky, they can at least draw some hope from the fact all three conference games Saturday were won by the road team, including Morehead State's 72-70 victory at Tennessee Tech that snapped the Golden Eagles' 33-game home winning streak.

"Several teams have already won on the road in the conference and that's what we have to go try and do," Garner said.

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