The Colonels snapped a two-game losing streak with a big 76-65 road win over rival Morehead State (11-7, 2-1 OVC) Saturday.
EKU (11-6, 2-2 OVC) bounced back from a very disappointing defensive performance against Murray State on Wednesday to hold the potent MSU offense in check all night long.
In a game that featured eight ties and 12 lead changes, the Colonels finally started to put some distance between themselves and the Eagles six minutes into the second half.
Consecutive baskets by Glenn Cosey, Tarius Johnson and Orlando Williams broke a 44-all tie and gave EKU a 50-44 lead.
The Eagles cut the lead to four points on five different occasions, but the Colonels never let them get any closer. EKU eventually stretched its lead to as many as 13 points and won going away.
Cosey and Corey Walden combined for 37 points to lead the Colonel offense. Walden had a team-best 19, while Cosey had 18.
But Orlando Williams had his best game of the season, adding 14 points, and drawing the praise of EKU coach Jeff Neubauer.
“Orlando Williams was an absolute star offensively,” Neubauer said in a radio interview. “He made good decisions. He was patient early... I just can’t tell you how proud I was of Orlando’s effort. He was just outstanding.”
The EKU defense was the story of the game and especially Corey Walden’s play against MSU point guard Kareem Storey.
Walden smothered Storey all night, making it difficult for him to get to the rim and making it almost impossible for him to get the MSU offense on track as he has done all season.
“Corey Walden was just spectacular tonight,” Neubauer said. “Coach Austin Newton made the call to put Corey on Storey and it was a great call. Corey was phenomenal with his feet. There were so many passes he (Storey) couldn’t make because of his amazing feet, effort and just determination to guard the ball.”
After allowing its three previous opponents to shoot better than 50 percent, the defense turned it around against Morehead.
EKU held the Eagles to only 33.9 percent shooting from the field and 33.3 percent from behind the three-point line. The Colonels also forced MSU into 20 turnovers in the game.
Meanwhile, the Colonels hit 44.4 percent from the field on the night.
The Colonels held the Eagles without a field goal for almost 11 minutes in the second half. During that stretch, all 15 MSU points came from the free throw line.
Following the Murray State game the Colonels said they didn’t feel like they had given their best effort and wanted to come out against Morehead and make amends, Neubauer said.
“We really needed this one because we felt like we didn’t play great against Murray State. We just were not ourselves. It really left a bad taste in our mouths,” Neubauer said. “Our team really responded tonight. We have great, great leadership on this team. And I think Jeff Johnson was one of the best leaders out here tonight.”
Next up for the Colonels is a date against league leading and defending champion Belmont in McBrayer Arena on Thursday.