BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. – With the score tied, Corey Walden banked in a three-pointer as the shot clock expired and 1:08 left in the game to send the Eastern Kentucky University men’s basketball team to a 69-62 win at Gardner-Webb in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament.
The win is the first for EKU in a national postseason tournament in 68 years.
The Colonels (25-7) led by 15 with 13:04 remaining in the game. Glenn Cosey’s 3-pointer capped an 18-6 run to open the second half that made it a 15-point game, 52-37. The Runnin’ Bulldogs (21-13) answered by scoring 10 straight to get back in it.
The visitors still led by 10, 57-47, after a dunk by Corey Walden with 8:42 left. However, GWU had one more run left. Gardner-Webb out-scored Eastern 13-3 to tie the game at 60-60 with 4:31 showing on the clock. The Runnin’ Bulldogs went the next 2:47 without scoring, but EKU managed just two free throws during that time.
Jerome Hill made a jumper and was fouled with 1:44 to go, but he missed the free throw attempt and the game remained knotted 62-62.
As the shot clock expired on the other end, Walden made a deposit with a bank shot from the left wing for a three-point lead. GWU missed three shot attempts, including two three-point shots, before sending Eastern to the line four times in the final 11 seconds. The Colonels made all four.
Walden finished with 26 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field. He made all four of his three-point attempts and 8-of-10 from the free throw line. Cosey hit six 3-pointers for the fourth time this season and finished with 22 points. Eric Stutz added 10 points and a team-best six rebounds.
Donta Harper had 17 points for Gardner-Webb.
EKU made 12-of-26 from behind the arc for 46 percent. Gardner-Webb hit 4-of-19 from deep for 21 percent. Eastern turned the ball over a season-high 20 times, but GWU gave it up 22 times.
The Colonels will learn who their next opponent is on Wednesday. The CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament makes following round pairings after the proceeding round is completed.
Eastern Kentucky’s last postseason national tournament victory came on March 17, 1945. EKU defeated Southern Illinois in the third place game of the National Association of Intercollegiate Basketball (NAIB) Tournament. The NAIB became the NAIA in 1952.
This is Eastern’s first postseason national tournament appearance since playing in the College Basketball Inivitational in 2010.
Eastern Kentucky finished with the second best record in the Ohio Valley Conference.
EKU broke the school record for wins (22) this season.