RICHMOND, Ky. —
A tremendous first half and a 16-point lead could not hold up for the Morehead State men’s basketball team at Eastern Kentucky Monday night as the Eagles saw a late goaltending call ultimately erase the lead, and EKU recorded the 71-68 win over the Eagles.
Eventually going behind 68-66, freshman forward Johni Broome knotted the battle again at 68 with 32 seconds left before EKU’s Michael Moreno drove to the goal and put up a shot that MSU senior James Baker appeared to block away. But a goaltending call was whistled, allowing Moreno’s basket to count, plus a free throw, to set the final margin.
Trailing 9-0 right off the bat, Morehead State eventually put together an 18-0 run midway through the half to build a 44-28 lead at the break.
The Eagles slipped to 1-4 and 0-1 in the OVC. The Colonels moved to 4-1 and gained the early conference lead as this was the first league game to be contested this season.
– Moreno, who had a game-high 29 points, scored the game’s first nine in the first three minutes.
– The Eagles trailed 22-19, but Baker’s layup at 8:27 kick-started the 18-0 run. MSU led 37-22 after Baker’s basket at 3:46.
– MSU led 44-28 at the half, shooting 75 percent (18-of-24) in the first 20 minutes.
– Russhard Cruickshank’s three-pointer with 5:28 left in the game finally brought EKU back to within two (65-63).
– Wendell Green’s steal and layup with 2:39 left gave EKU back the lead at 67-66.
– Morehead State turned the ball over 27 times, leading to 28 points for the home team. EKU entered the game ranking in the top 15 in the nation in forcing mistakes.
– Five Eagles reached double figures in scoring, led by Broome (13) and junior guard KJ Hunt, Jr., with a career-best 13. Junior guard Skyelar Potter (11) and Baker (11) were next, followed by junior guard DeVon Cooper with 10.
– MSU’s 67 percent field goal accuracy (29-of-43) was its highest output since hitting 72 percent against Chattanooga on Nov. 28, 2013.
– The Eagles out-rebounded the Colonels 33-26 but hit just 4-of-11 from the free throw line.
– Hunt also dished out a career-best seven assists, while sophomore guard Ta’lon Cooper handed off a season-best five helpers.
QUOTING COACH SPRADLIN
“What a great game to open up OVC play. Give credit to EKU, they ramped up their pressure. We just did not take care of the ball like we needed down the stretch and that ended up costing us. Our guys kind of let the momentum of the game get to us.”
“Even with that many turnovers in the second half, if we had just come up with a few of those 50-50 balls we might have had a chance.”
“It’s unique to play EKU again in the same week. We have to fix our mistakes and learn from it. But I think we did a lot of good things too tonight.”
The Eagles host the first of back to back games with Transylvania (Ky.) Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET. The teams will match up again Thursday at 6 p.m. EKU is scheduled to visit Johnson Arena next Monday at 6 p.m.