RICHMOND, Ky. – Eastern Kentucky University’s women’s basketball team will try to build on its two-game winning streak on Thursday when the Lady Colonels make the short trip to face rival Morehead State University. The two teams will tip-off for the 73rd time at 5:15 p.m., at Johnson Arena in Morehead, Ky. EKU (8-4, 3-2 OVC) has wins over Penn and Tennessee Tech in its last two games. The Eagles (4-10, 2-4 OVC) are coming off a win of their own over Tennessee Tech.
Eastern Kentucky leads the all-time series, 39-33, but Morehead State has won three of the last four meetings between the two schools. The series began with the Lady Colonels winning the first five games beginning with the inaugural meeting during the 1971-72 season. The Eagles then won 24 of the next 32 contests. The tide began to swing with the second meeting during the 1990-91 season. Beginning with that win, EKU has won 26 of the last 35 games between the rivals.
Against Tennessee Tech on Saturday, Crystal Jones scored 25 points and Niki Avery added 17 to lead the Lady Colonels to a 74-62 victory at McBrayer Arena. Jones made 11 of 23 shots from the field and added nine rebounds to go along with her 25 points. Four of Avery’s six field goals came from beyond the three-point arc.
The game remained close throughout much of the first half as each team exchanged runs to prevent the other from gaining too much momentum. Lindsey Waters’ driving lay-up in the closing seconds sent Eastern Kentucky to the locker room with a 34-32 lead.
Eastern Kentucky opened the second half with a 15-6 run. A three-pointer from Avery pushed the Lady Colonels to a 10-point lead, 45-35.
The Lady Colonels worked the transition game to perfection to cap the run. Waters rebounded a missed Tech shot and hit Cherie White at mid-court. With a two-on-two situation, White drove to the basket on the left side before passing to Avery on the right side. Avery dished to a driving Jones down the middle and Jones converted the lay-up to extend the lead to 11, 49-38. That play forced Tech to take a time out with 15:15 left in the game.
The Golden Eagles scored four unanswered points after the time out to cut the deficit to seven points, but they would get no closer. A lay-up by Jones with 7:46 left in the game put the Lady Colonels in front by 11, 55-44. EKU would maintain a double-digit lead for the rest of the game.
EKU only out-rebounded Tennessee Tech by two, 35-33, but the Lady Colonels limited the Golden Eagles to eight offensive rebounds while grabbing 15 boards off the offensive glass themselves. Eastern held a 13-20 edge in turnovers.
In her last two games, Jones is averaging 23 points, three rebounds, three assists and three steals. She has also only committed two turnovers in 61 minutes on the court.
Through 12 games of the 2007-08 season, the Lady Colonels are ranked among the nation’s leaders in several team and individual categories. As a team, EKU ranks 21st in the nation in steals per game (12.1), 22nd in the nation in scoring (75.3 ppg), 23rd in three-point field goals per game (7.1) and 37th in free throw percentage (.742).
Individually, Jones has the highest free throw percentage (.947) in the nation. The senior has made 36 of 38 attempts from the charity stripe this season. Avery ranks eighth in three-point field goals per game (3.2) and 24th in three point field goal percentage (.437).
Morehead State enters Thursday’s game coming off of a 51-49 win at Tennessee Tech on Monday. The Eagles’ other conference win came at home against Tennessee-Martin.
Senior Afton Perry nearly recorded a triple double while leading the Eagles to the win over Tennessee Tech. Perry, a University of Kentucky transfer, finished with 14 points, 15 rebounds and seven blocks. Freshman Chynna Bozeman chipped in with 10 points and six rebounds.
Of Morehead’s 39 rebounds on Monday night, only nine were off the offensive glass. The Eagles also shot just 21.7 percent (5-for-23) from beyond the three-point arc.
For the season, Bozeman leads the team with an average of 11.6 points per game. Perry is averaging 10.4 points and a team-best 8.8 rebounds per game. Sophomore Brittany Pittman, a Middle Tennessee State transfer, is averaging 8.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.
In OVC games only, Perry is shooting 61.7 percent (29-of-47) from the field and Pittman is averaging 9.2 rebounds per game.
Senior Tara Combs is a threat from behind the arc. She is 37-for-109 from long range and averages 9.8 points per contest.
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