CHARLESTON, Ill. – Eastern Kentucky University’s men’s basketball team overcame an 11-point second half deficit and took a 3-point lead with 3:40 left in the game, but Eastern Illinois University escaped with a 67-66 win on Thursday at Lantz Arena.
The Panthers led by 11 twice early in the second half and had a 9-point advantage, 57-48, with 10:35 left in the game. Houston King hit a three-pointer and Dujuanta Weaver connected on a lay-up to quickly reduce the deficit to four, 57-53. EIU went back in front by seven, 62-55, with 6:12 remaining, but didn’t score again until the 2:41 mark.
During that span, EKU ran off 10 unanswered. Jomaru Brown got it started with an old-fashioned three-point play. Nick Mayo capped it with five straight, giving the Colonels a 65-62 lead with 3:40 to play. However, Trey King’s free throw with 2:11 on the clock was the only point Eastern Kentucky scored the rest of the game.
Josiah Wallace gave EIU a 67-66 lead with two free throws with 17.4 seconds left. EKU had one last chance. Inbounding the ball at about three-quarter court with 2.4 seconds to go, Kelvin Robinson raced to about eight feet from the basket and got off a shot that just missed.
Weaver had a team-high 18 points. Mayo finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Brown added 13 points.
Mack Smith led the Panthers (13-9, 6-3 OVC) with 17 points. Cam Burrell had 10 points and 10 boards.
The Colonels (10-12, 3-6 OVC) pushed out to an 8-point lead with the help of four Weaver three-pointers. A pair of free throws by Mayo with 6:14 to go in the first half made it 25-17. However, from there, EKU scored just five points the rest of the half as the Panthers ended the first 20 minutes of action on a 22-5 run.
Smith tied the game, 27-27, with a three-pointer at the 4:06 mark. Two free throws by Wallace gave Eastern Illinois a 29-28 lead. A dunk by Burrell made it a nine-point game, 39-30, at the break.
The Colonels two-game road trip to Illinois continues Saturday at Southern Illinois Edwardsville. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET.