EKU wins in overtime to advance to CBI Final Four
No. 8 seed EKU (22-13) will play the winner of the game between No. 4 Southern Utah and No. 12 Rice in the semifinals on Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Isaiah Cozart hit two free throws with 20.1 seconds left in overtime to put the Eastern Kentucky University men’s basketball team in front by one, and then blocked one of three attempts by No. 1 seed Indiana State University to win the game in the closing seconds. The Colonels held on for an 89-88 victory in the 2023 Discount Tire College Basketball Invitational (CBI) quarterfinals on Monday.
No. 8 seed EKU (22-13) will play the winner of the game between No. 4 Southern Utah and No. 12 Rice in the semifinals on Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET. The game will air live on ESPN2.
The two teams exchanged baskets throughout the overtime period. After a Devontae Blanton 3-pointer gave the Colonels an 87-85 lead with 1:13 on the clock, Cooper Neese hit a triple with 55 seconds to go to put ISU in front by one, 88-87. Tayshawn Comer missed on a jumper on the other end, but Cozart came down with the offensive rebound and was fouled. He stepped to the line 1-for-3 on the day from the charity stripe, but connected on both. The first tied the game for the 14th time. The second was the 11th lead change of the contest.
Cozart blocked Neese’s first attempt to give the Sycamores the lead with five seconds left on the clock. Neese missed on another attempt with 3.5 seconds remaining. Robbie Avila missed a long jumper at the buzzer.
Blanton led all players with a career-high 32 points, hitting on 12-of-22 from the field. He also had eight rebounds and four assists. Cozart had 11 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks, his second double-double in as many games at the CBI.
A 15-foot jumper from Blanton with 3:39 left in regulation put the Colonels on top by three, 78-75. Courvoisier McCauley tied it with a 3-pointer at the 3:19 mark. Two free throws from Julian Larry gave Indiana State an 80-78 lead with 1:14 to go. Blanton’s jumper on the other end tied the game and neither team scored again in the final minute of regulation.
McCauley and Neese finished with 17 points each for the Sycamores (23-13).
Back-to-back jumpers from Blanton gave EKU an early 12-8 lead, but Indiana State answered with a 10-4 run to take a 22-16 advantage. Xavier Bledson’s lay-up with 5:49 remaining in the first half put the Sycamores ahead by eight, 35-27. This time the Colonels answered, rolling off 10 unanswered as ISU went almost two minutes without scoring. A 3-pointer from the top of the key by Comer started the run. Blanton hit a 3-pointer from the right wing. Cozart followed with a lay-up before Blanton capped it with two free throws for a 37-35 lead.
A running jumper in the paint from Leland Walker gave the Colonels a 43-41 edge and broke the eighth tie of the first half with 56 seconds on the clock. Indiana State scored the final six points of the period, four of which came at the free throw line to take a 47-43 advantage into the locker room at intermission.
Indiana State scored the first five points of the second half. McCauley’s 3-pointer with 18:15 left to play had the Sycamores up by nine, 52-43. The Colonels rallied again though. EKU scored the next 13 points, four from Blanton and five from Comer. Dardan Kapiti’s basket capped it and gave EKU a 56-52 lead. This time ISU went almost five minutes without scoring.
Michael Moreno’s scoring burst, a 3-pointer from the right wing and a lay-up, sandwiched around a lay-up from Kapiti, extended the margin to seven, 65-58, with 11:13 to go.
EKU led by seven two more times before a 7-2 ISU run cut the lead to two, 74-72.
The Colonels shot 49 percent from the field and went 12-of-14 at the free throw line. Indiana State made 53 percent of its shots from the field, but turned the ball over 18 times. EKU turned those turnovers into 16 points and turned eight offensive rebounds into 12 second-chance points.
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