After a loss to SIU-Edwardsville on Saturday snapped a six-game win streak, the Colonels bounced back with a 78-71 win over long-time rival Morehead State on Thursday on the road.
It was EKU's first win over the Eagles since Feb. 10, 2018 and the first time since 2015 the Colonels had topped Morehead State in the Ellis T. Johnson Arena.
The Colonels (13-13, 10-3 OVC) took advantage of a poor shooting night for the Eagles and surprised Morehead State by employing a zone defense for much of the game.
The Eagles (12-14, 6-7 OVC) shot 42 percent from the field and 60 percent from the charity stripe. However, Morehead State struggled from three point range -- hitting on just 3-of-25 -- with all their three pointers coming in the last nine minutes of the game.
After shooting just 31 percent from the field and 19 from beyond the arc in the loss to SIUE, EKU stepped up its offense on Thursday.
The Colonels shot 55 percent from the field for the game and 35 percent from beyond the arc. EKU was 7-of-9 from the free throw line (78 percent) and knocked down all six of their free throw attempts in the second half.
"We just went zone and we had to stick with that. They go 0-for-12 in the first half from three and halftime I told the team to lets just stay with it again and it worked for us," EKU coach A.W. Hamilton said of the Colonel's win in a postgame radio interview. "They just couldn't get it going and we just wanted to see what they were going to do. It made it easier to cover the shooters with the zone."
Five EKU players ended the game in double digits.
Jomaru Brown led the Colonels with 19 points and was just one assist away from a double-double. He also pulled down five rebounds.
Tre King had 13 points and was 6-of-8 from the field. The sophomore also had four rebounds. Ty Taylor had 13 points and was a perfect 3-of-3 from the free throw line.
Michael Moreno had 12 points and was 5-of-6 from the field. The freshman had five rebounds and two assists.
Fellow freshman Tariq Balogun played just 16 minutes but was 5-of-6 from the field for 10 points to go along with three rebounds.
The Colonels trailed by nine points, 19-10, with 13:27 left in the first half
However, Lachlan Anderson came off the bench and sparked a 15-5 run to help the Colonels claw back into the game.
The senior drained three threes during the run and finished the game with nine points and led the team in rebounds with seven.
Balogun also caught fire off the bench and tied the game up with a dunk, 22-22, with less than 10 minutes left in the first half.
Anderson capped the run with another three-pointer to give EKU back the lead, 25-24, with 9:04 to go.
Both teams battled in the remaining minutes of the first half, Brown fought through three defenders and made a layup with 48 seconds left to give the Colonels a five-point lead, 42-37, at halftime.
EKU shot 56 percent from the field in the first half and never trailed for the rest of the game.
"Lachlan got us going and Tariq came in and made those plays. Tariq won the belt. I'm so proud of that guy," Hamilton said after the game.
Brown also praised the freshman's performance on Thursday.
"Tariq came in and played some huge minutes. I'm super happy for him. Sometimes he gets down on himself... I tell him every day, it's a process for everything. I'm happy for him that (his hard work) is coming to fruition for him," the sophomore said.
EKU stretched its lead to seven three times and nine once through the first 12 minutes of the second half, but the Eagles closed the gap each time.
With the Colonels up 61-54, Morehead State scored seven of the next nine to get within two, 63-61, with 5:33 left in the game.
However, Taylor knocked down a three-pointer from the right wing on the other end to stave off the rally.
After a MSU basket, Brown scored on a lay-up and Taylor connected on three free throws to extend the advantage to 71-63, with 3:11 to play.
A jumper by King capped a run of seven-unanswered points and gave the Colonels their largest lead of the game, 73-63, with 2:11 left.
MSU cut the 10-point deficit in half before King scored on a breakaway dunk and made the ensuing free throw with 36.2 seconds remaining to push the lead back to eight and essentially secure the win.
The Eagles were led by Tyzhaun Claude with 23 points and six rebounds.
Hamilton praised the selflessness of his team on Thursday night and the growth of his young players.
"It's a great team win. Jomaru Brown had nine assists and he made some great passes. I thought that pass to Tre King for the dunk was awesome. Moreno is on fire. His shooting percentage is smoking hot. We got to get him more shots. He's a competitive guy and he's tough. He's not scared of the moment. Some of the plays he makes, I stand over there and say, wow," the coach said.
The Eagles won the battle of the boards by just five -- 37-32 -- and had 14 turnovers and only turned the Eagles over nine times.
However, EKU's bench picked up the slack with 21 bench points.
"We responded to a bad game at SIUE. We have a lot to play for. They are relentless. We have put ourselves in a good position," Hamilton said.
Brown said the Colonels will continue to fight.
"It's a blessing," the sophomore said of the team's current standing in the OVC. "We are not finished yet. We still have a few more in us."