Eastern Illinois beats SIU-Edwardsville 78-66 at OVC tourney

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Cornell Johnston seemed to be in the right place to spot up and knock down a 3-pointer every time Eastern Illinois' lead began to shrink Wednesday night at the Ohio Valley Conference tournament as the sixth-seeded Panthers fended off No. 7 seed SIU-Edwardsville 78-66 to win their first post-season game since 2010.

Johnston hit 5 of 6 from long range to finish with 22 points, tying his career best, and Chris Olivier added 24 on 10 of 13 shooting.

Eastern Illinois (17-13) opened a tight game with a 9-2 run in the first two minutes of the second half, stretching the lead to 39-28 capped by an Olivier dunk before SIU-Edwardsville called time.

The Cougars closed to within 56-51 on a C.J. Carr three-point play with 7:48 left, but Johnston hit back-to-back treys. Carr led the Cougars (12-16) with 15 points.

Eastern Illinois faces No. 3 seed Belmont (19-10) Thursday night.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.