By Bob Flynn
Register Sports Writer
It didn’t come easy, but the Colonels moved to 4-1 on the season with a gutsy 74-67 win over High Point (1-2) Saturday in McBrayer Arena.
In a game that featured 11 lead changes in the second half, the Colonels finally took the lead for good at 56-55 on a three pointer by Corey Walden with 7:13 remaining.
EKU stretched the lead to four points three different times, but each time High Point rallied to cut it to one point.
The Colonels defense came up big in the final four minutes, coming up with three steals that resulted in layups at the other end, and shutting down High Point’s inside tandem of John Brown and Allen Chaney to finally pull away in the final two minutes.
“I’m really proud of my team today because we played a really good basketball team. I will be surprised if High Point is not in the NCAA Tournament at the end of the year,” EKU coach Jeff Neubauer said. “They are the pick to win the Big South and they have two absolute studs in the middle in John Brown and Allen Chaney.”
As he has all season, senior point guard Glenn Cosey had another big night. Cosey finished with a game-high 25 points, five assists and only two turnovers.
“Obviously Glenn made shots. The thing I felt down the stretch is I didn’t feel like I had to call the right play. I just needed to call a play where the ball ended up in Glenn’s hands,” Neubauer said. “He did a great job of getting off the ball screens, creating shots for himself and others and he was huge here tonight.”
Walden and Marcus Lewis added 16 points and five rebounds each. Walden also had six assists and only one turnover.
Neubauer said the protection of the ball by the guards was a big reason the Colonels came out on top.
“I’m really proud of the way our guards played ... Our value for the ball was great. Five assists, two turnovers for Glenn, six assists and one turnover for Corey. They are finding their teammates, getting their teammates good looks,” Neubauer said.
The Colonels led by as many as eight points in the first half.
But High Point used a 9-2 run in the final 2:30 of the half to get to within 32-31 at the half.
The Panther took the lead 37-36 with 15:58 to go on a jumper by Chaney.
The lead bounced back-and-forth before the Colonels finally regained the advantage with just more than seven minutes to go.
The Colonels did a good job neutralizing the athletic Panthers and keeping them off the backboards for most of the night, especially on the defensive end, which Neubauer said was a key.
“Our guys did a very good job defensive rebounding. For us to hold them to just nine offensive rebounds, that’s really spectacular for our team right now,” Neubauer said.
Eric Stutz (7) , Deverin Muff (1) and Jeff Johnson (3) combined for 11 rebounds, which was impressive considering that Muff and Stutz were limited by foul trouble for most of the game.
But with his teammates spending long stretches on the bench, Johnson came through for the Colonels, battling the more athletic Chaney and Brown for every ball, without picking up a foul.
“Jeff Johnson did his job. That’s the value of having a senior coming off the bench, especially at the bigger positions, that experience is invaluable and we’re really lucky to have it,” Neubauer said.
Orlando Williams finished with only eight points, but they each came at very opportune times when the Colonels were needing a basket to protect their slim lead or to bring them back from behind.
Stutz had four points Jeff Johnson had three points and Tarius Johnson added two points.
The Colonels return to action on Tuesday when they take on Alabama A&M at 7 p.m.