MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Eastern Kentucky University’s men’s basketball team overcame a 16-point second half deficit to take a 2-point lead with less than five minutes to play, but couldn’t hold off West Virginia University in a 74-67 loss on Sunday.
The Mountaineers (7-5) went on top by 16, 38-22, on a dunk by Deniz Kilicli with 18:36 left in the game. However, the Colonels (10-3) answered with a 13-3 run to get back in the game. A lay-up by Mike DiNunno cut the deficit to nine. Tarius Johnson came up with a steal on the ensuing inbounds play and Glenn Cosey knocked down a three-pointer to cap the run and make it a 6-point game with 15:31 to go.
With just over 10 minutes remaining, EKU closed the gap further. Cosey connected on a lay-up and was fouled. He missed the free throw, but the Colonels came up with the offensive rebound and Orlando Williams hit a three-pointer to bring the visitors to within two, 52-50. A second three-pointer by Williams 30 seconds later made it a 1-point game, 54-53, in favor of the Mountaineers.
Williams, a transfer from Miami (Ohio) made his debut for the Colonels. The junior made his first two shots from the field before finishing with 10 points.
West Virginia pushed back out in front by six before Eastern Kentucky made another run. Eric Stutz and Morgantown native Ryan Parsons keyed a 10-2 Colonel spurt. After Parsons came into the game, Stutz got the run started with a lay-up. Parsons drew a charge on the other end leading to a Cosey three-pointer. After WVU made a pair of free throws, Parsons nailed a three-pointer and Stutz connected on two free throws to turn a 59-53 deficit into a 63-61 EKU lead.
West Virginia scored the next five points and led the rest of the way. A three-pointer by Cosey, his fifth of the game, with 24 seconds left to play got Eastern Kentucky to within three, 70-67, but Juwan Staten went to the line and hit two free throws to seal the victory for the Mountaineers.
Cosey led all players with 21 points. Stutz finished with a team-best eight rebounds and four assists. Staten and Gary Browne led WVU with 17 points each. Aaric Murray had eight points and 12 rebounds.
After shooting 28 percent in the first half, the Colonels scorched the nets for 63 percent in the second half. West Virginia made just 33 percent of its second half shots and went 0-for-5 from behind the arc. Both teams committed 13 turnovers, but EKU was out-rebounded by 11.
The Colonels will return to action on Thursday when they open Ohio Valley Conference play with their first home game since December 1. Tip-off against Eastern Illinois is scheduled for 7 p.m.
EKU head coach Jeff Neubauer served as an assistant at West Virginia under John Beilein from 2002 to 2005.
The Colonels are ranked 22nd in the latest CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top-25.
West Virginia has won 46 of its last 47 non-conference home games. The Mountaineers are 32-1 in non-conference regular season home games under Bob Huggins.
WVU has won 50 of its last 51 home games in the month of December.
Entering the game, West Virginia’s average margin of victory in all home games under Bob Huggins was +14.4. The Mountaineers won by only seven on Sunday.
WVU head coach Bob Huggins is 6-4 all-time against the Colonels.