Late free throws secure EKU’s win over Eastern Illinois

RICHMOND, Ky. (EKU Athletics) – With a 1-point lead and 4.8 seconds left in the game, Ty Taylor made two free throws to secure Eastern Kentucky University’s 77-74 victory over Eastern Illinois University in an Ohio Valley Conference men’s basketball game on Thursday at McBrayer Arena.

A lay-up by JacQuess Hobbs early in the second half gave the Colonels (5-11, 2-1 OVC) a 16-point lead, 48-32. However, the Panthers (7-8, 0-3 OVC) rallied as EKU started the second half just 4-of-21 from the field (19 percent).

EIU scored nine straight points to get within seven, 48-41. Eastern Kentucky went back in front by 11, 54-43, on a 3-pointer from the left corner by Lachlan Anderson with 12:52 to go. Eastern Illinois then out-scored the home team 21-7, turning that 11-point deficit into a 3-point lead.

A Josiah Wallace lay-up drew Eastern Illinois within one, 61-60, with 6:58 showing on the clock. Mack Smith’s lay-up 31 seconds later gave the Panthers their first lead of the game, 62-61. Shareef Smith capped the run and put EIU ahead 64-61 with a lay-up at the 5:57 mark.

The game was tied three more times before Jomaru Brown’s jumper with 50 seconds to go put the Colonels in front 73-71. Marvin Johnson missed a 3-point attempt for EIU with 35 seconds left. Taylor’s two free throws with 19.8 ticks remaining pushed the margin to four, 75-71. Mack Smith connected on a leaning 3-pointer from the top of the key with eight seconds to go to keep EIU in the game.

After Taylor’s free throws with less than five seconds to play, Johnson drove the length of the court and missed on a lay-up at the buzzer.

Brown came off the bench to score a game-best 24 points for Eastern Kentucky. Taylor had 17 and Anderson finished with 13.

Wallace led Eastern Illinois with 16 points. George Dixon contributed a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds.

The Colonels torched the nets to the tune of 61 percent through the first 13 and a half minutes of the game. EKU scored the first six points and went in front 17-4 on a lay-up from Brown. A run of seven unanswered gave Eastern Kentucky its largest lead at 18 points, 24-6, with 12:37 on the clock.

When Brown put in a lay-up at the 6:21 mark, the Colonels were 14-of-23 from the field for 60.8 percent and had a 15-point advantage, 35-20. EKU scored the final four points of the half and led 46-32 at the break.

Eastern Kentucky will close out a four-game home stand on Saturday against Southern Illinois University Edwardsville at 4 p.m.

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