Fans were stacked to the aisle in the CFSB Center as the Racers prepared to play at home for the last time this season. The pre-game festivities celebrated the four seniors, Jarvis Williams, Jonathan Fairell and T.J. Sapp, but all eyes were on Head Coach Steve Prohm as he took his 100th program win. A 65-57 victory over Eastern Illinois University made Prohm the fastest coach in Racer history to claim 100 wins and take home his 23rd consecutive win this season. This 23-game win streak, in addition to being the second-longest in the nation after No. 1 Kentucky, ties for the longest streak in OVC history, a record already held by the Racers from the 2011-12 season.
The normal starters, all three seniors plus sophomore point guard Cameron Payne and junior forward Jeffery Moss, took to the court and won the tip against the Panthers. Williams put the first points of the game on the board on a goaltending call against Eastern Illinois.
Sapp followed with a 3-pointer and Moss quickly followed with one of his own to increase the lead to 8-0 with 16:44 to play in the first half. Williams added a dunk to the board before being fouled on a second dunk attempt. He made both free throws and the Racers went up by 12 uncontested for the first five minutes of the game.
Fairell took the first personal foul for the Racers and Eastern Illinois’s junior guard Trae Anderson made both free throws, putting the Panthers’ first points of the game on the board.
Eastern Illinois’s Anderson, senior forward Josh Piper and junior forward Chris Olivier, who returned from an injury Feb. 14, led the Panther’s offense with 18 of the Panthers’ 21 points in the first half.
The Racers entered the locker room at the half leading Eastern Illinois 34-21.
The Panthers were chomping at the bit in the second half to cut the lead and challenge the Racers. They closed it to less than ten just three minutes in and maintained a close margin for most of the half. With 49 seconds to play, Fairell was subbed out with three personal fouls to his name. Less than 30 seconds elapsed before he was subbed back in for Williams to be honored for senior night. He was quickly subbed back out by junior forward Wayne Langston, acknowledging the crowd as he took in his last minutes on the floor of the CFSB Center. The crowd cheered “Thank you, seniors,” as the clock timed out and the Racers won 65-57.
The Racers are now just one game away from a perfect conference season. Facing the UT Martin Skyhawks Saturday at 6 p.m. in Martin, Tenn., the Racers have a chance to become the fourth team in OVC history to go undefeated in conference.
Story by Mallory Tucker
Haley Hays/The News
Senior forward Jarvis Williams goes up for a layup against Eastern Illinois University Feb. 26 at the CFSB Center.