RICHMOND, Ky. – A late 16-5 run was enough to send the Eastern Kentucky University’s men’s basketball team past a hot shooting Southern Illinois Edwardsville squad, 78-72, on Saturday at McBrayer Arena.
Despite shooting 60 percent for the game, the Cougars (4-8, 0-2 OVC) led for only 17 seconds over the final 37 minutes of the contest. The Colonels (12-3, 2-0 OVC) led by as many as 11 three times early in the second half and were in front by 10, 56-46, after a lay-up and free throw by Corey Walden with 11 minutes remaining.
SIUE answered with a 14-2 run. Jerome Jones and Kris Davis each hit three-pointers during the spurt and each accounted for five points. A lay-up by Michael Messer capped the run and put the visitors in front by two, 60-58, with 7:19 showing on the clock. Seventeen seconds later Walden hit two free throws that would start the game-clinching run.
After Walden’s two from the charity stripe, Mike DiNunno nailed a three-pointer. Messer answered with a three to tie it for the seventh and final time. Orlando Williams scored four straight and EKU led the rest of the way. Lay-ups by Jeff Johnson and Glenn Cosey, and a tip-in off an offensive rebound by Marcus Lewis wrapped up the 16-5 run and put the Colonels in front 74-65 with 43 seconds to play.
Eastern converted all four of its free throws in the final 30 seconds and finished the game 19-of-21 (90.5 percent) from the stripe.
DiNunno led four players in double figures for EKU with 17 points. Walden finished with 16 points, four assists and four rebounds. Eric Stutz went 4-for-5 from the field and 5-for-5 from the free throw line for 13 points. Williams finished with 12 points.
Jones led the Cougars with 15 points. Mark Yelovich added 14 points and a game-best seven rebounds.
SIU made 27-of-45 from the field for 60 percent, including 7-of-13 (54 percent) from behind the three-point line. Eastern Kentucky connected on 26-of-56 for 46 percent and made just 7-of-25 (28 percent) from deep. However, the Colonels out-scored the Cougars by eight at the free throw line and committed nine fewer turnovers.
Eastern will return to action on Wednesday at Murray State. Both teams are 2-0 in conference play. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET.