EKU falls on the road at Florida Gulf Coast

Jomaru Brown-01 (2022_01-27 at Florida Gulf Coast by Corey Rush).jpg
Posted at 7:38 PM, Jan 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-27 19:38:02-05

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Eastern Kentucky University’s men’s basketball team overcame an 11-point deficit to lead four times in the second half, but couldn’t hold off Florida Gulf Coast University in a 77-73 loss on Thursday at Alico Arena.

The Colonels started the second half with a 14-3 run to turn an eight point deficit into a 3-point lead. A lay-up from Russhard Cruickshank and a Curt Lewis free throw made it a 3-point game, 38-35. After an Eagle basket, Jomaru Brown and Lewis combined to score seven straight points to cap the run. Brown hit on a baseline jumper before Lewis knocked down a 3-pointer. A breakaway dunk by Brown put the visitors on top 42-39 with 15:41 left in the game.

EKU led three more times, including 54-53 on a jumper by Devontae Blanton. However, the Eagles scored the next four points to start a 9-3 run and never trailed again. After a put-back by Tariq Balogun got the Colonels within four, 65-61, FGCU scored the next seven points to stretch the margin to 11 again, 72-61. A steal and lay-up from Cyrus Largie with 3:18 to go made it 72-61 in favor of Florida Gulf Coast.

Brown led Eastern Kentucky with 20 points. Lewis added seven points and 12 rebounds.

Florida Gulf Coast scored 12 of the first 14 points of the game and led by as many as 11 points twice in the first half. The Eagles led 36-25 late in the opening stanza before a 3-pointer by Lewis sent the visitors to the locker room down eight at the break, 36-28. FGCU’s Kevin Samuel scored 16 points on 8-for-11 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds in the first half. The rest of the team shot 23 percent (3-for-13) from the field.

Samuel and Austin Richie finished with 18 points each to lead the Eagles. Samuel grabbed 14 rebounds. He had just two points and five rebounds in the second half.

EKU (10-11, 2-5 ASUN) shot 46 percent from the field while Florida Gulf Coast made 45 percent of its shots. Both teams shot 50 percent from the free throw line with Eastern Kentucky going 8-for-16 and the Eagles shooting 13-for-26. FGCU (13-8, 3-4 ASUN) finished with a 46-33 rebounding edge.

The Colonels will play at Stetson in DeLand, Florida on Saturday at 4 p.m.