The Colonels had the lead at halftime, but could not overcome a poor shooting night and fell 83-75 to SIUE on Saturday at the Vadalabene Center.
The loss snapped EKU’s (12-13, 9-3 OVC) six-game win streak.
“It’s a disappointing loss,” EKU coach A.W. Hamilton said in a post game radio interview. “I thought we started the game really bad. I hated (the team’s) energy in the first half. You have to credit SIUE, they outplayed us tonight.”
The team was also without Russhard Cruickshank who is still recovering from a head injury sustained in the Colonel’s win over Easter Illinois University on Thursday.
“We missed his energy and toughness out there today,” Hamilton said of the guard. “I hate it for him. He tried to play but he had some symptoms at warmups and we had to pull him out.”
Sophomore Jomaru Brown led the Colonels with 21 points, to go along with six assists, five rebounds and three steals.
Freshman Michael Moreno finished with a double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Senior Lachlan Anderson came off the bench to record 11 points, seven rebounds and three steals.
EKU shot 31 percent from the floor (21-of-68), 19 percent from deep (7-of-37) and 72 percent from the free throw line (26-of-36).
“We took rushed shots, we took bad shots, we go 7 for 37… I was disappointed. We shot horrible from the free throw line and just left a lot of points out there… When you shoot 30 percent from the field, it felt like we played transition defense the entire game. We just couldn’t make shots, tonight.”
The Cougars (6-19, 3-9 OVC) took advantage of the Colonel’s cold shooting early and raced out to a 14-point lead in the first half.
After just making one three pointer the game before, SIUE was hot from beyond the arc to start the game.
Three straight three pointers in the first five minutes gave the Cougars a 16-2 lead with 15:25 left in the first half.
The Colonels clawed back and used a 17-4 run to pull ahead.
Moreno converted a putback to make it 23-21 with 5:23 remaining in the first half.
The freshman then drained a three pointer just before the buzzer to keep EKU ahead by two, 30-28, at halftime.
That lead evaporated quickly in the second half.
SIUE raced out on an 11-2 run and took a 39-32 advantage when Tyrese Williford sank a pair of foul shots with 17:02 left.
After that, the Cougars never trailed again.
In the second half, foul trouble also started to mount for the Colonels.
Tre King had four fouls for much of the second half of play and eventually fouled out of the game along with Brown and Moreno.
“I was disappointed in our effort today. We couldn’t make shots and when Tre is in foul trouble we can’t use him,” Hamilton said.
Despite the adversity, the Colonels made one last charge in the final minutes and pulled to within three, 68-65, when junior JacQuess Hobbs drained a free throw with just over four minutes to play.
However, SIUE answered again with a 12-2 run over the next 3:30 to put the game out of reach.
“We didn’t play very well and we don’t have a lot of time to sulk over this. I hate that our winning streak is over. I hate it for our guys. Now, we just have to start a new one,” Hamilton said.
Shamar Wright paced the Cougars with 20 points.
SIUE out-rebounded EKU, 48-34; however, the Colonels won the turnover battle, 26-12.
Eastern returns to action on Thursday at rival Morehead State. Tip is scheduled for 7 p.m.