RICHMOND, Ky. – A late 23-7 run propelled Eastern Kentucky to a 74-67 win over visiting Tennessee Tech on Thursday and guaranteed the Colonels a first round bye in next week's Ohio Valley Conference Tournament.
EKU (20-9, 10-5 OVC) also secured the ninth 20-win campaign in program history. With Morehead State's loss on Thursday at home to Tennessee State, Eastern Kentucky can claim the third seed in the OVC Tournament with a win at home over TSU on Saturday.
Josiah Moore's jumper capped a 7-0 Tech run and put the visitors on top 55-49 with 8:00 left. However, the Colonels scored seven unanswered of their own to key the game-changing 23-7 run that would carry into the final minute of the game.
Tarius Johnson contributed five of the seven, including a three-pointer at the 5:55 mark to put EKU in front 56-55. After the Golden Eagles went back in front 57-56, Eric Stutz scored four straight to give the home squad a lead they would never relinquish. A lay-up and free throw by Johnson with 51 seconds remaining polished off the run and staked Eastern to a 10-point lead, 72-62.
Johnson and Glenn Cosey led Eastern Kentucky with 20 points each. Johnson also had five rebounds and four assists. Corey Walden added 14 and Stutz finished with 12 points and a team-best six rebounds.
Jeremiah Samarrippas led all players with 22 points for Tennessee Tech (15-15, 8-7 OVC). He made 8-of-11 from the field and dished out seven assists.
Both teams shot over 50 percent from the field. Tech had nine more rebounds but EKU finished with eight fewer turnovers.
The Colonels will conclude the regular season with a pair of home games next week. Eastern will host Tennessee Tech on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
Glenn Cosey needs one more three-pointers to move into a tie for seventh place on EKU's all-time career three-pointer list. He needs six more treys to tie the school's single season record of 104.
Glenn Cosey needs nine points to become the 32nd member of Eastern's 1,000-point club.
Tonight's victory was the 100th home court win for head coach Jeff Neubauer.
Eastern Kentucky is 15-0 this season when holding opponents under 70 points.
EKU entered the game first in the nation in turnover margin (+6.8) and finished with eight fewer turnovers than Tech on Thursday.
When these two teams played earlier this season, Eastern Kentucky turned the ball over a season-high 17 times and allowed Tech to shoot 56 percent from the field. On Thursday, the Colonels had seven turnovers.
The Colonels had allowed 70 or more points in six of their last eight conference games.
EKU entered the game second in the OVC allowing 70.2 points per game. TTU was fourth at 71.6 points allowed per game.
Entering the game, Tennessee Tech had committed 66 more personal fouls than its opponents and had been out-scored at the free throw line by 78 points. On Thursday, Tech had five more personal fouls and was out-scored at the stripe by four points.
EKU now leads the all-time series with Tennessee Tech, 71-57. The Colonels are 42-22 against the Golden Eagles in games played in Richmond.