COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee Tech senior Frank Davis
established a career record for most 3-pointers made, but his
team-best 25 points and seven assists couldn’t lift his team
over Eastern Kentucky Saturday night. The Colonels had too many
weapons, including four players in double figures, on the way to a
78-73 Ohio Valley Conference victory.
EKU improved to 11-6 overall and 4-2 within the conference while the Golden Eagles slipped to 7-9 overall and 1-4 in OVC action.
Eastern Kentucky never trailed in the contest. The Golden Eagles were able to fight their way back into a tie in the final two minutes, but the Colonels outscored Tech 9-4 in the final three minutes for the victory.
Justin Stommes topped EKU with 22 points, going 5-for-7 from long range. Guard Willie Cruz was 8-for-8 from the field, the benefactor of some timely Colonel passes that freed him for eight layups, and finished with 19 points and four assists. Josh Taylor scored 15 and Papa Oppong added 14 points and four steals.
Davis, who now has 213 career 3-pointers, finished 5-for-9 from long distance for 25 points. The only other Golden Eagle in double figures was sophomore Kevin Murphy with 13. Point guard Elijah Muhammad had eight points and seven assists while freshman Jud Dillard added eight points and nine rebounds.
Tech shot 54.7 percent from the field, the seventh consecutive game over the 50 percent mark. The Golden Eagles were 10-for-20 from long range, and owned a 28-22 edge in rebounds.
EKU shot even better, hitting 58.3 percent from the field including 12-for-26 from beyond the arc.
The Colonels jumped out to a 7-0 lead and led all the way to halftime behind 11 points each from Taylor and Stommes, who each drained three 3-pointers. EKU shot 7-for-17 from beyond the arc in the first half for 41.2 percent
The Golden Eagles scratched their way back into the contest midway in the second half with an 8-0 run. Down 50-40, it began with a 3-pointer from Murphy. Frank Davis rebounded his missed shot and hit a floater, then canned a 3-pointer to make it 50-48.
Oppong drained a 3-pointer and EKU eventually rebuilt the lead to eight at 63-55 with 7:02 to play. Once again, the Golden Eagles rallied, putting together a 14-6 run which included two 3-pointers each from Davis and Murphy. A layup by Bassey Inameti with 3:12 to play made it 69-69.
Cruz and Taylor hit free throws for a four-point lead and Davis cut it to one with another 3-pointer, making it 73-72 with 2:12 left.
EKU worked the ball to Stommes for a short jumper, and Taylor blocked a shot by Dillard at the other end. A missed 3-pointer by the Golden Eagles led to a layup at the other end by Cruz and a 77-72 lead with 27 seconds left.
Each team added one free throw for the final margin.
Coach Sutton’s squad will make an appearance on national television in its next contest, playing Thursday night at UT Martin in a game that will be aired on ESPNU.
After a Saturday night game at Murray State, the Golden Eagles roll back into Eblen Center for a pair of OVC doubleheaders. First o the agenda is a game against Austin Peay on Thursday, Jan. 21, followed by Tennessee State on Saturday, Jan. 23.