Eastern Kentucky holds on to secure 80-73 OVC victory

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – In a game that brought together two of the most prolific 3-point shooting teams in the nation, both Eastern Kentucky and Tennessee Tech were above average.

It also featured two of the most accurate 3-point shooting squads, but while Tech hit a little above its season percentage from long range, the visiting Colonels excelled.

That combination led to a 80-73 Eastern Kentucky victory Thursday night in Eblen Center in Ohio Valley Conference play.

Two EKU players did most of the damage. Mike Rose was 6-for-8 from long range on his way to 27 points, while Josh Taylor was 4-for-5 from outside the arc and finished with 12 points.

EKU, averaging 10.3 per game from 3-point range to rank second in the nation, hit 12-of-24 attempts. Tech, averaging 7.4 per game, finished 11-for-26..

The difference came in their accuracy. Tech shot 42.3 percent, better than its season mark of 38.8 percent. The Colonels, meanwhile, came into the game shooting 38.4 percent and connected on 50 percent, thanks mostly to Rose and Taylor.

Tech raced out to an 8-0 lead, and the Golden Eagles went up by nine points in the early going, before EKU used a 13-0 run to get back into the contest.The Colonels eventually made it a 21-2 stretch and built a 10-point lead, 29-19, with 8:41 to go in the half.

The Colonel lead went as big as 14 before EKU took a 43-32 edge into halftime.

The Golden Eagles trimmed the EKU lead down to six early in the second half following a 3-pointer by Murphy, but the Colonels shot back with consecutive treys from Taylor and Rose to regain a 12-point edge.

Again, Tech made it a nine-point game, but Rose, Camacho and Hones scored layups during a 36-second span and the 6-0 run made it a 15-point Colonel lead, 55-40, with 11:55 remaining.

Down by a dozen with 5:24 to play following a layup by Papa Oppong, Tech used a 6-0 run to make it a six-point game, 64-58. EKU wouldn’t make a basket over the final 5:24, but the Colonels make 16 free throws during that stretch to hang on.

Kevin Murphy made a 3-pointer with 38 seconds to play to make it 76-71, and Will Barnes got a steal and layup 12 seconds later to make it a one possession game, 76-73, with 26 seconds left.

George Camacho and Mike Rose each canned two free throws to secure the win.

Rose led all scorers with 27 points and added six rebounds and three steals. Camacho finished with 15 points and seven rebounds, going 9-for-10 at the free throw line. Taylor and Joshua Jones each scored 12 for the Colonels.

Murphy led Tech with 21 points, hitting 6-for-9 from long range for the Golden Eagles. Alfred Jones and Will Barnes had 11 points each. Daniel Northern had nine points and a game-high nine rebounds.

Next on the schedule for the Golden Eagles is a visit from Morehead State Saturday night, with tipoff in Eblen Center set for 7:30 p.m. The homestand also includes a Monday night game at 7 p.m. against Austin Peay.