The Redhawks erased a 11-point deficit to take their first lead of the game with 6:40 left to play Saturday in Cape Girardeau, Mo.
That’s when EKU’s Josh Daniel went to work.
The senior guard scored nine straight points to quell the Southeast Missouri rally, giving the Colonels the lead for good and a 64-52 victory on the road.
“Those were the nine most important points of the game,” EKU coach Jeff Neubauer said in a post-game radio interview. “When you go down one with that little time left in the game — that’s winning time. That’s when you win a game. They were never able to catch us after that.”
Daniel finished with a game-high 16 points — all in the second half — to push the Colonels (9-9, 4-4 OVC) to a perfect 2-0 start to their current road trip.
“It all started with good passing from my teammates,” Daniel said. “They found me on a couple back doors, found me for a couple threes. I just kind of was in a groove, and I felt like I couldn’t miss there for a little bit.”
While the Colonels survived a SEMO (5-13, 4-4) comeback and pulled away late, the victory can be credited to the team’s defensive effort. The Redhawks were held to fewer than 30 points in both halves thanks to an inspired defense that has stepped up since the Colonels fell at home to Tennessee Tech last weekend.
“We’re very happy with our defense right now and that was our whole emphasis after that Tennessee Tech game,” Neubauer said. “Our emphasis is we have to think of ourselves as defenders. If we’re going to be winners it’s because of defense.”
The Colonels’ 1-3-1 zone defense forced 19 SEMO turnovers, which they turned into 18 points.
Joshua Jones added 15 points in the win, while Spencer Perrin put in 10. Jeff Johnson scored nine and had three assists.
The Redhawks got a double-double from Cameron Butler, who scored 10 points and had 10 rebounds. Lucas Nutt also scored 10 while Anthony Allison put in a team-high 12 points and Leon Powell scored 11. Powell also had nine rebounds.
The victory moves the Colonels into a sixth-place tie with SEMO in the league standings.
EKU now travels to SIU-Edwardsville — a future member of the OVC — for an 8 p.m. tip Tuesday.