By Bob Flynn
Register Sports Writer
The Colonels scored the first 10 points of the game and rode a 20-5 second-half run to pull away from Norfolk State (2-4) and cruise to a 68-44 win Saturday in McBrayer Arena.
After leading by nine, 26-17, at the half, EKU’s stifling defensive pressure forced the Spartans into 11 second-half turnovers, many of which resulted in easy baskets, fueling an 8-0 Colonels (5-0) run that stretched the lead to 19 and effectively putting the Spartans away.
“The reason we won this game tonight was defense,” EKU coach Jeff Neubauer said. “Our defense was more solid here tonight than it has been at any point early in the season. We forced turnovers and started getting easy baskets that really got us going.”
The Colonels defense was especially good on Norfolk State’s best player, Pendarvis Williams, the hero of the Spartans NCAA Tournament upset of No. 2 seed Missouri last year. They held him to only six points in the game.
“We talked about Williams being a very talented player going into the game,” Neubauer said. “We wanted to pressure him. He’s very good at getting points on the run. We stayed with him and made it tough for him to get shots on the move.”
Senior Mike DiNunno led all scorers with 19, hitting three-of-six three pointers, while dishing out three assists and recording four steals.
The Colonels also got strong games from Corey Walden, 15 points and four steals, Glenn Cosey, 14 points and four assists, Eric Stutz, eight points, five assists and six rebounds and Tarius Johnson, six points and a game-high eight rebounds.
EKU held Norfolk State scoreless the first six minutes of the game and built a 24-8 lead before the Spartans finally got things going.
The combination of a switch to a zone defense that held the Colonels scoreless for more than three minutes, and domination of the offensive backboard — 6-1 — allowed the Spartans to climb back into the game late in the half. Norfolk State scored nine of the last 11 points of the first half to cut the lead to nine, 26-17 at the half.
The two teams traded baskets for the first seven minutes of the second half before the Spartans made their only run of the game, scoring seven straight to cut the Colonels lead to four at 36-32 with 11:25 left.
But EKU answered right back on the strength of its defense and a renewed effort on the glass to score 10 of the next 12 points and put the game away.
EKU has scored 60 more points off turnovers than its opponents on the year after outscoring NSU 24-9 off turnovers.
After being dominated on the backboards for much of the game, the Colonels came back to close the gap and were only outrebounded by four, 32-24.
The Colonels are now 5-0 to start the season for the first time since 2004-04.
EKU continues its homestand on Wednesday against Delaware State.