RICHMOND, Ky. – The Eastern Kentucky University men’s basketball team used a 13-0 run midway through the second half to pull away from Belmont University, and then held on late to hand the visiting Bruins their first conference loss of the season, 74-63, on Thursday night at McBrayer Arena.
Behind a raucous, season-best crowd of 5,200, EKU broke a 48-48 tie on a three-pointer by junior Corey Walden with 9:39 to play in the game. The Colonels then scored the game’s next 10 points as a pair of free throws by Walden gave EKU a 61-48 advantage with 7:04 on the clock.
Belmont battled back and got to within seven, 66-59, when Craig Bradshaw converted a layup with 1:43 remaining; however, senior Marcus Lewis quieted any chance of a comeback with a thunderous baseline dunk on EKU’s next possession that brought the Colonel crowd back to life.
Senior Glenn Cosey knocked down five free throws in the final minute to seal the win for EKU.
Walden led four Colonels in double figures with 18 points. He also added four rebounds, three assists and two steals. Cosey finished with 13 points, while senior Tarius Johnson had 12 points and junior Eric Stutz contributed 10 points and matched a career-high with five assists.
EKU overcame a 37-24 rebounding deficit in the game by shooting 51.9 percent (27-of-52) from the field and 73 percent (19-of-26) from inside the three-point line.
The Colonels stifled Belmont to its worst shooting game of the season: 37.5 percent (18-of-48) from the field.
Bradshaw paced the Bruins with 22 points, while Drew Windler had 12 points and JJ Mann finished with 10 points.
The hotly-contested first half featured eight ties and four lead changes. Belmont took its largest lead of the half, 18-14, when Windler knocked down a three-pointer with 10:59 on the clock; however, Lewis rallied the Colonels with a backdoor dunk on the Colonels’ next possession. Stutz followed that up with a bucket to tie the game, 18-18, with 6:39 remaining in the half.
The remainder of the first half was a back-and-forth affair. Belmont led by three with just over a minute to play, but another Stutz basket cut the Colonel deficit to one with 17 ticks on the clock. Walden’s desperation heave at the buzzer just missed as EKU went into the locker room at halftime down by one, 32-31.
With the game tied, 48-48, with 10:03 remaining, EKU exploded on a 13-0 run. Walden started the run with a three-pointer and finished it with a pair of free throws that gave the Colonels a 61-48 advantage with 7:04 on the clock. Eastern would never trail again.
EKU returns to action on Saturday when the Colonels host Jacksonville State at McBrayer Arena at 7:00 p.m.
Eastern Kentucky is ranked 24th in the latest CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25. Belmont entered the game ranked 18th.
Belmont entered the game shooting 50.6 percent from the field (best in the OVC) and averaging 80.6 points per game this season (2nd in the OVC). The Bruins were held to 63 points and 37.5 percent shooting.
The Colonels entered the game ranked second in the OVC in scoring defense (69.4 ppg). Belmont entered the game eighth in the conference in scoring defense (77.3 ppg) and had allowed 80 points or more in nine of its first 18 games.
In EKU’s previous two games, leading scorer Glenn Cosey had shot 20.8 percent (5-for-24) from the field and 12.5 percent (2-for-16) from three-point range. He finished 2-for-10 from the field and 1-for-8 from deep on Thursday.