Eastern Kentucky overcame a 13-point second half deficit but couldn't hold off Jacksonville State in an 80-71 loss on Saturday at McBrayer Arena.
The Colonels (4-11, 1-1 OVC) slowly clawed their way back after starting the second half down by 13, 44-31. Two straight baskets from Jomaru Brown cut it to nine, 44-35. A 3-pointer from the left wing from Lachlan Anderson got Eastern within five, 52-47, with 12:33 left in the game. Brown's baseline jumper with 11:28 to go made it a 2-point game, 53-51. An offensive rebound, put-back and free throw from Tre King with 9:26 on the clock tied the game, 59-59, for the first time since 4-4.
Eastern Kentucky tied the game three more times over the next four and a half minutes but could never take the lead. A jumper and a runner in the lane by JacQuess Hobbs tied it for the final time, 69-69, with 4:51 remaining. Jacksonville State scored the next nine points to secure the win. Two free throws by Jacara Cross with 3:52 left gave the visitors the lead for good.
Brown hit on 9-of-16 from the field and led Eastern with 18 points. Ty Taylor added 10 points. Michael Moreno contributed eight points and a team-best seven rebounds.
Cross had a game-high 20 points off the bench for the Gamecocks (7-8, 2-0 OVC). De'Torrion Ware and Kayne Henry added 14 points each.
The Colonels withstood a hot start by the Gamecocks. JSU made nine of its first 11 shots (82 percent), including 4-of-5 from 3-point range, to build a 22-12 advantage with 12:40 remaining in the first half. EKU slowly narrowed the gap over the next six minutes. Consecutive baskets by Brown made it a 6-point game, 22-16. A 3-pointer from the right wing by Moreno and another bucket from Brown got Eastern within three, 27-24, with 7:28 to go in the first.
When Darius Hicks made a lay-up with 6:50 on the clock, the Colonels were down just four, 30-26. However, Jacksonville State closed the half on a 14-5 run to take a 13-point lead into the locker room at the break, 44-31.
JSU shot 53 percent in the first stanza and made 8-of-12 (67 percent) from behind the arc. EKU hit on 37 percent of its first half shots and just 5-of-18 from deep.
After starting the game hot, the Gamecocks came out cold to start the second half. Jacksonville State hit on just 4-of-15 to open the period and missed all six 3-point attempts as the Colonels staged their comeback.
Eastern shot 40 percent from the field for the game, including 25 percent (8-of-32) from long range. JSU shot 48 percent for the game, and went 9-for-20 (45 percent) from behind the arc.
Eastern Kentucky plays host to Eastern Illinois on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.