By Bob Flynn
Register Sports Writer
The Colonels extended their season-opening winning streak to eight Tuesday with a 63-57 win over North Carolina Central in their first road game of the season in Durham N.C.
Mike DiNunno scored a game-high 21 points and Glenn Cosey added 11 points, seven rebounds, four assists and four steals.
EKU lead for all but 17 seconds in the game, building leads of 10 points several times only to see the Eagles cut the margin to four each time.
DiNunno did most of his damage in the first half, scoring 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field and 3-of-4 from the three-point line to help the Colonels build a 31-22 halftime lead.
The second half, it was Cosey who rose to the occasion after the Eagles sliced the Colonel lead to 49-45 with about five minutes left.
Cosey, who was 0-4 from the three-point line and scored only two points in the first half, hit back-to-back threes to once again push the margin out to 10 with 3:22 left to play.
The Eagles were forced to foul late in the game and the Colonels hit 8-of-12 free throws down the stretch to hand on for the win.
EKU coach Jeff Neubauer said the Eagles were the best defensive team his squad had faced all year.
“Our guards did a very good job of just being patient. I don’t think we forced very many shots,” Neubauer said. “They put their best defender on Glenn in the first half so that allowed Mike to have a great half. The switched it up in the second half and put him on Mike which opened it up for Glenn.”
The EKU defense, as it has done to teams all year, forced the Eagles into 22 turnovers, which the Colonels turned into 32 points. The Colonels also held the Eagles to 14 percent shooting from behind the three-point line (1-7).
“We’ve got to give our defense credit. We held them to only 22 points in the first half and only 57 points on their home court. We’ve got to be proud of that,” Neubauer said. “I’m just proud of our team. The atmosphere in here was really, really electric and their fans were into it. This was not a crowd that sat here passively. They were rocking. This was a good win on the road for this team.”
Jeff Johnson and Deverin Muff scored seven points each, while Eric Stutz added five and Tarius Johnson, Corey Walden and Marcus Lewis each had four points.
The Colonels shot 45.8 percent from the floor and 38.1 percent from three-point range.
The Colonels were once again outrebounded, this time 38-19 by the Eagles. That is something that is a concern going into the next game against Chattanooga, Neubauer said.
“Rebounding is certainly something we have to work on. They got 13 offensive rebounds and it is something we talk about and we work on,” Neubauer said. “I need to coach it better. We are going to get better at it. I don’t know anything about this year’s Chattanooga team, but I do know Coach (John) Shulman’s teams and they are always some of the best rebounding teams in the country.
This is the first time EKU has started 8-0 since the 1964-65 team won 10 in a row to begin the season, and it is the fourth-best start in program history.
The Colonels play at Chattanooga Saturday, Dec. 8 at 7 p.m.
By Bob Flynn
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