CHARLOTTE AMALIE, ST. THOMAS, V.I. – The Eastern Kentucky University men’s basketball team exploded for 61 points in the second half to roll past Kennesaw State, 100-81, in the Colonels’ final game of the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam on Monday afternoon.
EKU (3-3) led by only six, 39-33, at halftime, and by only five, 55-50, with 14:04 to play in the game. That is when freshman Jomaru Brown sparked the Colonels with six straight points off the bench. He buried a three-pointer and followed that up with a three-point to play to give Eastern a double-digit advantage, 61-50.
Kennesaw State (1-5) continued to hang around, pulling back to within nine, 67-58, at the 9:28 mark of the second half. EKU then buried the Owls with a decisive 17-6 run. Junior Lachlan Anderson ignited the run with a three-pointer. On the Colonels’ next trip down the court, senior Nick Mayo drove baseline, dunked and drew the foul to energize the EKU bench.
The Colonels were off to the races at that point. A three-pointer by Mayo capped the 17-6 run and made it 83-64 with 6:53 left in the game.
Eastern took its largest lead, 100-79, when freshman Houston King connected on a three-pointer with just under a minute to play.
Mayo led EKU with 29 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. He finished 4-of-7 from deep. His game-changing baseline dunk in the second half moved him past Antonio Parris to No. 3 all-time on EKU’s scoring list (1,732).
Brown finished with a career-high 21 points to go along with four rebounds, two steals and two assists.
Sophomore Peyton Broughton played a key role in the Colonels’ second-half run. He hit a pair of three-pointers early in the half and finished with 13 points. He also added a team-best and career-high five steals.
EKU won the turnover battle decisively, 18-6. The Colonels collected a season-best 13 steals in the game and turned those into 18 points.
Eastern had its best shooting performance of the season so far. The Colonels shot 50 percent from the floor (37-of-74) and 43 percent from long distance (13-of-30). Their 13 threes in the game matched a season-best.
EKU will now have a week off before traveling to Knoxville to face Tennessee on Wednesday, Nov. 28, at 6:30 p.m.