Eastern Kentucky University’s hard work on the defensive end led to easy baskets on the offensive end and a lopsided victory.
The Colonels halted a three-game losing streak Saturday night, scoring a big victory in the home opener, 107-43 against Brescia University.
“What we asked our team to do was give us 40 minutes of focus on the defensive end, and I think we did that,” EKU coach Jeff Neubauer said. “The other thing we had to do was to guard the ball better than we have lately and I think we played 1-on-1 defense as well as we have all year.”
EKU (4-5) used runs of 17-0, 14-0 and 8-0 in the first half, taking a 51-26 lead into the break.
The pressure continued in the second half, as the Colonels opened the half on a 10-0 run and used other runs of 15-0, 10-0 and 7-0 to outscore Brescia 56-17 in the period.
“On the offensive end we shared the ball well and shot it well, but I think a lot of that offensive success was spurred by our defense,” Neubauer said.
Freshman Eric Stutz used his size to have his way against the smaller Brescia team, scoring a season-high 22 points and hauling down eight rebounds.
Stutz led an attack that saw five players score in double figures, as 11 players scored for the Colonels.
“They had a smaller guy on me to start the game, so I was able to score on him,” Stutz said. “When they put another guy on me, I was able to find teammates and get some shot for them.”
Stutz had a season-high four assists.
For the game Stutz was 9-of-14 (64.2 percent) from the field and 4-of-7 from the free throw line.
Overall, EKU shot 61.7 percent from the field and held Brescia to 27.1 percent shooting.
The Colonels also had 13 steals and forced 20 turnovers, while only turning the ball over four times.
Trailing 3-0, the Colonels turned up the defensive pressure.
Senior Joshua Jones nailed a three-pointer to tie the game.
Stutz grabbed an offensive rebound and scored.
Jones yanked down a rebound and started the break, getting the ball to junior Mike DiNunno for a jumper and a 7-3 lead.
Jones drove, dishing to Stutz, who scored an easy bucket.
D’MItri Riggs pulled down a rebound and started the break, finding Jaron Jones open for a three-pointer and a 12-3 lead.
Stutz rebounded his one miss and scored and Jeff Johnson passed to Jeff Allgood for a three-pointer and a 17-3 lead.
EKU never looked back, increasing the lead to 25 at halftime.
The Colonels have been using a 1-3-1 defense recently and it worked to perfection Saturday.
“Coach put a lot of emphasis in practice on our defensive intensity and we worked all week on the 1-3-1 zone and came out and executed,” Joshua Jones said.
“It’s a good building block,” he said of the win. “We’ll just try to progress from here.”
Allgood scored a career-high 15 points, hitting 5-of-6 shots from the field and 4-of-5 from three-point range.
Joshua Jones added 14 points, DiNunno had 14 points and six assists and Jaron Jones scored 13 points.
Jabs Newby added seven points, Timmy Knipp, Ryan Parsons and Johnson all scored six points.
Riggs and Taylor Filipek each scored two points.
EKU next plays Tuesday at home against North Carolina Central.
The game is part of a doubleheader with the women’s team. The woman play at 6 p.m. against Belmont.
The men’s game is scheduled for 8 p.m.