The Colonels let a comfortable lead slip away and had to come up with some big plays down the stretch to come up with a victory on Thursday at McBrayer Arena.

The result was still a victory, though.

And that was really all that mattered.

"We rallied back and showed a lot of heart and I was really proud of them," EKU coach AW Hamilton said. "It shows a lot of growth."

The Colonels (5-11) moved to 2-1 in the Ohio Valley Conference with hard-fought victory over Eastern Illinois (0-3 OVC).

They will wrap up an very important four-game homestand today.

EKU is set to take on SIU-Edwardsville (4-12, 1-2).

Game time is set for 4 p.m.

The Cougars opened OVC play last week with an impressive win over Belmont in Nashville, 79-69. Since then, they've lost two-straight including an 83-77 setback on Thursday at Morehead State.

SIUE trailed by 16 points at halftime, but got back in the game by getting to the line 22 times in the second half.

EKU had a 48-32 lead on Eastern Illinois early in the second half.

The Panthers, however, used a 21-7 run to take a three-point lead.

Jomaru Brown had a big late basket and Ty Taylor hit four-of-four free throws in the final seconds to secure the win.

Brown had a game-high 24 points off the bench for the Colonels, while Taylor had 17 points and Lachlan Anderson added 13 points.

Brown is sixth in the OVC In scoring, averaging 16.9 points a game. Taylor is tied for 10th in scoring at 13.3 points a game.

EKU junior guard JacQuess Hobbs is second in the OVC in steals a game (2.1) and Anderson is fourth in the league in three-point percentage (45.5).

The Colonels are shooting just 39.5 percent from the field on the season — the lowest in the OVC — and 31.2 percent from three-point range (11th best in the league).

EKU continues to lead the league in steals (10.0 a game) and turnover margin (+4.19 a game).

SIUE junior Zeke Moore is the team's leading scorer, averaging 13.3 points a game, while senior Tyresse Williford is fifth in the OVC in assists (3.9 a game).

Other than the victory over Belmont, the Cougars only have one other win over a Division I opponent — Incarnate World, 57-55.

SIUE also has wins over Quincy University (NCAA Division II) and Lindenwood University (NAIA).

In the victory at Belmont, Cam Williams had a double-double (13 points and 12 rebounds) and four other players reached double-figures, including Moore (17), Williford (14) and Brandon Jackson (12).

The Colonels have lost two-straight to the Cougars.

EKU fell to SIUE in double overtime last season on the road, 88-82, and suffered an 85-82 loss at home in 2018.

The Cougars lead the all-time series with EKU, 6-5.

EKU will hit the road for a pair of OVC road trips the next two weekend.

The Colonels are set to take on Belmont and Tennessee State next week.

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