CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – Eastern Kentucky University’s men’s basketball team tightened its defense and improved its rebounding in the second half to escape with an 81-72 win at Southeast Missouri State University on Saturday.
The Colonels (17-6, 7-3 OVC) allowed SEMO to shoot 60 percent in the first half, were out-rebounded by seven and trailed by two. However, in the second half, Eastern held the Redhawks (11-13, 3-7 OVC) to 36 percent shooting and out-rebounded the home team by five.
Sophomore Eric Stutz was a key to both improvements. He finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds and seven blocked shots. It was his first career double-double. Glenn Cosey had 21 points on four three-pointers and 9-for-10 shooting from the free throw line.
A pair of free throws by Marland Smith finished of six straight by SEMO that cut a 7-point Colonel advantage to one with 9:24 left in the game. However, Eastern answered with an 11-2 run and kept control for the rest of the game. DiNunno scored six and Stutz polished it off with two free throws for a 71-61 lead with 4:30 remaining.
Southeast got as close as five with 45 seconds showing on the clock before four straight free throws secured the win for Eastern Kentucky.
EKU shot 53 percent from the field and 47 percent from three-point range. The Colonels also made 16-of-18 (88.9 percent) from the free throw line. The Redhawks made 47 percent of their shots, but only 25 percent from behind the arc.
By the end of the game, SEMO had a 2-rebound edge, 31-29.
Tarius Johnson finished with 14 points and seven boards. Lewis had 10 points, including an impressive dunk off an alley-oop inbound pass.
Corey Wilford led all players with 27 points for the home squad.
The Colonels return to McBrayer Arena for a game against Crowley’s Ridge College on Tuesday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Eastern Kentucky is ranked 19th in the latest CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top-25.
Eric Stutz recorded his first career double-double. It was the first double-double by a Colonel since Jaron Jones had 17 points and 14 rebounds on Feb. 23, 2012 against SIU Edwardsville.
EKU had five players score in double figures for the first time since Dec. 3, 2011.
Southeast Missouri entered the game allowing the third most points per game (70.5) in the OVC.
SEMO entered the game leading the conference in defensive field goal percentage (39.8 percent). The Colonels shot 53 percent from the field.
The Colonels have won nine straight regular season meetings with the Redhawks.
Eastern Kentucky leads the all-time series 24-19 and is 9-11 against the Redhawks in Cape Girardeau.