By Bob Flynn
Register Sports Writer
The Colonels (19-6, 8-3 OVC) broke a six-game losing streak to the Eagles (11-14, 5-6 OVC) in Morehead Saturday with a dominating 68-47 win.
The EKU defense was tremendous in the first half holding the Eagles to only 20 points as the Colonels built a 30-20 halftime lead.
The Eagles got to within seven at 49-36 on a basket by Taariq Muhammad mid-way through the second half, but the EKU defense once again locked down the Morehead shooters.
EKU went on a 13-4 run to go up by 20 points at 60-38 and won going away.
“This is the best defensive game that we’ve played yet this year,” EKU coach Jeff Neubauer said in a radio interview. “We held them to 20 points in the first half and then with under a minute to go they only had 21 in the second half. When you do that on someone else’s court, that is something you can be proud of.”
Neubauer credited assistant coaches Austin Newton, Rodney Crawford and Luke Stregge for the defensive effort.
“I just turned our defense over to our assistants this week. They are the ones who have been showing the film and I guess our guys are really listening to those assistant coaches, because this was the best defense we’ve played,” Neubauer said.
The Colonels defense held Morehead to 32.6 percent shooting from the field and 26.7 percent from behind the three-point line, while also forcing the Eagles into 17 turnovers.
EKU shot 47.1 percent from the field, but only 20 percent from behind the arc.
For the second game in a row, sophomore Eric Stutz ignited the Colonel offense, getting several baskets in the opening minutes of the game.
Neubauer praised Stutz for his aggressive play recently.
“Eric Stutz had a good first half and really got us going and his offensive rebounding also got us going,” Neubauer said. “Part of his scoring was our guards finding him at the rim. Their ball screen defense was really focused on our perimeter players, Mike (DiNunno) and Glenn (Cosey). When teams do that it leaves Eric open at the rim.”
Cosey led the Colonels with 17 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals, while Stutz finished with 12 points, five rebounds and three assists and Corey Walden had 11 points and six rebounds.
The Colonels, the worst rebounding team in the OVC, outrebounded the Eagles — the best rebounding team in the league — 32-24.
Neubauer said it was the guards that set the tone on the backboards early in the game.
“Our offensive rebounding in the first half was great. We gave a tremendous effort,” Neubauer said. “Our guards, Corey Walden and Glenn Cosey, went in and got seven of our first 11 rebounds. When they are sticking their nose in there it really helps and got us going in the first half.”
On the night, the Colonels got scoring from 10 players.
DiNunno, who struggled from the field all night, finished with eight points, but he also had three rebounds, five assists and two steals. Marcus Lewis had six points, Jeff Johnson added four points, two rebounds and four assists, Tarius Johnson had four points and three rebounds, and Deverin Muff, Timmy Knipp and Jaylen Babb-Harrison had two points each.
The Colonels return to McBrayer Arena for their final three home games of the season beginning with a Valentines Day 7 p.m. matchup with Tennessee Tech, followed by games with Jacksonville State and Austin Peay.
EKU finishes up on the road with Valparaiso in the BracketBusters game and tilts with Tennessee Tech and Tennessee State to close out the season.