RICHMOND, Ky. – For the first time in 34 years, the Eastern Kentucky University’s men’s basketball team is 4-0 in Ohio Valley Conference play. The Colonels used a big mid-game run to take control in a 59-52 victory over rival Morehead State on Saturday at McBrayer Arena.
The last time EKU won four straight to start the conference schedule was in 1978-79 when the Colonels began OVC play 5-0.
Morehead State (8-10, 2-2 OVC) never trailed during the first 16 minutes of the game and took its largest lead of six, 20-14, on a jumper by Maurice Lewis-Briggs with 5:07 on the clock.
Eastern Kentucky (14-3, 4-0 OVC) shut the Eagles down after that bucket. The Colonels ended the half on an 18-1 run. Orlando Williams scored seven and Tarius Johnson added six during the spurt. A three-pointer by Williams and a lay-up by Mike DiNunno in the final 40 seconds sent EKU to the locker room with an 11-point lead, 32-21.
The Colonels scored the first five points of the second half to stretch the run to 23-1 and never looked back. Two free throws from Johnson capped the run and gave the home squad a 16 point advantage, 37-21. EKU stretched its lead to as many as 20 twice, the last time coming with less than five minutes to go. With less than four minutes remaining, Morehead State had only scored 35 points.
The Eagles closed the gap to seven twice in the final 20 seconds of play.
DiNunno led Eastern with 13 points to go along with four assists and three steals. Johnson finished with 11 points and a team-best seven rebounds. Orlando Williams and Eric Stutz each added 10 points.
Drew Kelly led Morehead State with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Bakari Turner added 11 points off the bench.
Eastern Kentucky shot 40 percent from the game and made only a quarter of its three-point attempts. However, the Colonels took advantage of 22 Eagle turnovers, out-scoring the visitors 26-19 off miscues.
MSU hit on 37 percent of its shots from the field and 28 percent from behind the arc.
The Colonels will take to the road next week for two OVC East Division games starting at Belmont on Thursday. Tip-off in Nashville is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET.
Eastern Kentucky is ranked 18th in the latest CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top-25.
Eastern Kentucky has out-scored its four conference foes by 51 points combined in the first half.
Morehead State entered the game averaging 10.6 steals per game, seventh best in the nation. The Eagles finished with nine.
Morehead State entered the game averaging 25 personal fouls per game and had been out-scored at the free throw line by 116 points this season. The Eagles committed 20 fouls tonight and were only out-scored by four points at the line.
The Eagles entered the game 11th in the 12-team Ohio Valley Conference in three-point field goal percentage defense (34.8 percent), but limited the Colonels to 25 percent shooting from deep.
Eastern Kentucky now leads the all-time series with Morehead State 105-74.