By Bob Flynn
Register Sports Writer
The Colonels (18-6) steamrolled undermanned Crowley’s Ridge College 97-31 in a non-conference matchup Tuesday at McBrayer Arena.
The win was the 136th for coach Jeff Neubauer, making him the second-winningest coach in EKU history, one game ahead of Rome Rankin and 78 wins behind Paul S. McBrayer.
The Colonels used runs of 14-0 and 23-4 to blow the game open in the first half. EKU led by 30 at 44-14 with 3:10 left in the first half on a dunk by Eric Stutz, then stretched the lead to 52-16 at the half.
The Colonels lead by more than 50 points for the final 14 minutes of the game.
EKU shot 55.1 percent from the floor and 38.7 percent from behind the three-point line. The Colonels forced the Pioneers into 36 turnovers while committing only 12 themselves, and finished with 22 assists and 26 steals in the game.
Sophomore guard Robbie Stenzel lead six Colonels in double figures with a game-high and career-best 14 points. He was five-of-six from the field, including three-of-four from three-point range, had three assists and three steals.
Stutz finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and seven steals, while Corey Walden had 11 points and Marcus Lewis, Jaylen Babb-Harrison and Deverin Muff had 10 points each.
Even though it was a mismatch, Neubauer said the game, which comes during the team’s bye week scheduled by the OVC, gives him a chance to play some of the players on the team who don’t get a lot of playing time during the season.
“There are three ways to handle the bye week situation. Leave it open and practice all week, schedule an independent, which is getting harder and harder to do, or go play a non-Division I game like this,” Neubauer said. “So I am really happy that our team had a chance to go out there and compete. This was good here tonight to get a lot of guys minutes.”
The game also allowed the team to work on some things that will help down the stretch and into the postseason.
“Our focus tonight was guarding the ball one-on-one. We did a much better job guarding the ball one-on-one here tonight and not putting our team in help situations,” Neubauer said. “I thought we did create scoring opportunities off the steals we got. But we were focused on the defensive end. We wanted to guard the ball and have the right support there. That was definitely our focus.”
Twelve players played in the game with the minutes spread around evenly. Six players played between 11 and 20 minutes, while only three played more than 20 minutes, with Timmy Knipp playing the most at 24 minutes.
Neubauer said he was pleased with the play of several players, especially Stenzel, Stutz and Glenn Cosey.
“Robbie played really well tonight. He had a couple of good passes where he got a little penetration and found a teammate and he made his shots. That’s a sign of a sophomore who really understands it’s not about how many shots you get up. It’s finding the right ones and sticking them in,” Neubauer said. “Eric set the tone early with his defense. He did a great job of that against SEMO on Saturday too. He had steals, he had blocks, he really did a good job of contesting passes to post players. And Glenn Cosey had one of his low scoring games, but he absolutely was trying to get his teammates involved, not forcing things and did a tremendous job of setting the others up.”
Knipp finished with nine points, Cosey and Jeff Johnson had seven each and Ryan Parsons added six on two three pointers.
Neubauer said the extra playing time for his reserves prepares them for more playing time down the road if needed.
“You don’t know exactly where this think is going to go in the next month. You don’t know who is going to be called on. So to have guys get out there and get in the flow and do some good things is really encouraging as we finish the season,” Neubauer said.
The Colonels will return to action Saturday when they take on Morehead on the road in a 7:30 p.m.