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EKU erases 18-point deficit, wins OT thriller over UNA

Michael Moreno-01 (2022_02-16 vs North Alabama by Corey Rush).jpg
Posted at 10:51 PM, Feb 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-16 22:51:49-05

RICHMOND, Ky. — Eastern Kentucky University’s men’s basketball team overcame an 18-point first half deficit and beat the University of North Alabama, 80-76, in overtime on Wednesday at McBrayer Arena.

The visiting Lions scored the first eight points of the game, and 13 of the first 15, on their way to taking a 19-5 lead less than seven minutes into the game. UNA went up 18, 24-6, with 11:22 to go in the first.

EKU closed to within nine with a quick 7-0 run in the later stages of the first half. After falling behind by 14 again, 37-23, the Colonels closed the first half on a 9-0 run. Jomaru Brown and Michael Moreno combined for all nine points. Brown hit a 3-pointer from the right corner and Moreno’s jumper with 56 seconds to go capped it and sent Eastern Kentucky to the locker room down just five, 37-32.

North Alabama stretched its lead to 11, 51-40, before the Colonels fired up another run. An 11-2 spurt brought the home team to within two. Freshman DaShawn Jackson hit a big 3-pointer early in the run. A lay-up from Curt Lewis finished it and made it a 53-51 game with 8:37 left to play. After a basket from UNA, EKU scored four more at the free throw line to stretch it to a 15-4 run. Two at the charity stripe from Russhard Cruickshank with 6:59 on the clock tied it 55-55.

Daniel Ortiz hit a 3-pointer to break the tie for the Lions with 6:26 left. A banked in 3-pointer from Blanton with 4:41 to go tied it again, 60-60. Brown’s lay-up with 2:36 left completed the comeback and put Eastern Kentucky in front for the first time, 63-62.

CJ Brim went to the free throw line with seven seconds left and the chance to give the visitors a 3-point lead, but he missed the second free throw to keep the margin at two. Brown put up a 3-pointer at the other end that missed, but Moreno grabbed the rebound and put it back in to send the game to overtime tied 68-68.

Moreno hit a 3-pointer to start OT and EKU never trailed. Eastern Kentucky went 6-for-6 at the free throw line in the final 30 seconds to secure the win.

Moreno led EKU (12-15, 4-9 ASUN) with 24 points and eight rebounds. Brown finished with 22.

Brim had a team-best 22 points for North Alabama (9-17, 2-11 ASUN).

The Lions shot 49 percent from the field for the game. Eastern Kentucky made 34 percent of its shots, but used 17 steals to force 25 turnovers.

The Colonels go on the road to play at Central Arkansas on Saturday at 7:15 p.m. ET. Tickets can be purchased for EKU’s final home game of the regular season, Feb. 26 against Bellarmine, at EKUSports.com/MBBTix [etix.com].