By Bob Flynn
Register Sports Writer
The Colonels (15-7, 6-3 )VC) dominated UT-Martin (7-17, 2-7 OVC) on both ends of the floor Thursday in a 89-66 win over the Skyhawks in McBrayer Arena.
EKU’s defense was strong all night long, but was especially good in the second half.
The Colonels held the Skyhawks to only 13 points over the first eight minutes of the half and forced eight turnovers during that stretch.
Those turnovers fueled the explosive EKU offense and turned a 42-30 halftime lead into a 63-43 margin at the 12-minute mark.
The Colonels stretched their lead to as many as 30 points with just more than five minutes remaining and cruised the rest of the way.
“Defensively, this was a very good effort by our team. I thought the first half, our man defense was pretty good but we had 10 turnovers,” EKU coach Jeff Neubauer said. “In the second half we only had two turnovers so we were able to guard them in the half-court all the time. I thought our feet on the ball was very good. Marcus Lewis, Corey Walden, Isaac McGlone moved their feet very well and guarded the ball one-on-one.”
The Colonels got scoring from all over the floor with five players reaching double figures. Marcus Lewis led the way with 19 points — including four thunderous dunks in transition. Glenn Cosey had 18 points, Eric Stutz had 14 points, Tarius Johnson had 12 points — including 8-of-8 from the free throw line, and Orlando Williams finished with 10 points.
UT-Martin hung tough early in the contest, aided by six EKU turnovers.
The lead changed hands five times in three minutes before back-to-back three pointers by Orlando Williams and Cosey gave the Colonels the lead for good at 18-15.
Five straight points by Lewis gave EKU a 10-point cushion at 28-18, but the Skyhawks fought back with an 8-0 run of their own to get to within two at 28-26.
Cosey’s second of five three pointers on the night ignited a 14-3 run over the final five minutes of the half. It ended on Isaac McGlone’s second three of the half and put the Colonels on top 42-30 at the half.
McGlone finished with nine points on the night on 3-of-3 three-pointers. He was also one of the Colonels who played very well on the defensive end.
“The thing that was great about Isaac is that he really guarded today. His feet on the ball was outstanding. He was able to guard the ball one-on-one against some very strong drivers,” Neubauer said. “Also, his acceleration to deny passes. He didn’t allow his guy to get it, which is the best way to guard. But he also shot the ball great too. So I really love what Isaac has done for our team here lately.”
UT-Martin came into the game as one of the highest-scoring teams during OVC play, with Marshun Newell, Terence Smith and Mike Liabo doing most of the damage.
The Colonels defense held Newell to only nine points, Smith to eight and Liabo — who had 32 points against Morehead last week — to only four points.
That effort was crucial to the win, Neubauer said, especially the job Timmy Knipp and Tarius Johnson did on Liabo.
“Newell and Smith have really been driving the ball quit a bit against everyone in our conference and I thought our guys stayed with it and guarded them for a long time,” Neubauer said. “Tarius Johnson and Timmy Knipp were matched up against Liabo, who is incredibly lethal... 32 points in 25 minutes at Morehead. We are very much aware of what he can do and Tarius and Timmy were locked in on him and deserve a lot of credit.”
Cosey said he thought the Colonels’ intensity coming out to start the second half set the tone for the rest of the game.
“We played with a lot more energy coming out of the locker room at the half, that’s for sure,” Cosey said. “We got stops, we got rebounds, we got steals and got out in transition and got open looks and Marcus got us going.”
Corey Walden added five points and four rebounds, while Deverin Muff had two points.
The Colonels shot 64 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from the three point line.