At the first media timeout with 14:48 to play in the first half, Eastern Kentucky held an 11-10 lead over Eastern Illinois, an almost unthinkable score for a game expected to be played in the low 60’s. From there, the Colonels would hold the Panthers to just eight more first half points, on their way to 65-54 win in Richmond.
The Panthers would make just three field goals during that 14:48 stretch, finishing the first half 7-20 from the field. EKU shot 52% for the half, and turned the ball over just twice. The 17-point lead stayed mostly intact throughout the second half, with a Panthers run in the final two minutes leading to the 11-point final.
Mike DiNunno and Tarius Johnson each had 13 points for the Colonels, with Johnson hitting 6-8 from the field. Johnson’s 13 was the first double-digit scoring effort since the Colonels season opener of the JUCO transfer. Marcus Lewis added 11 points off the bench,
Josh Piper returned to double figure scoring, his first in four games with 10 points, but the Panthers were led by 15 off the bench from Morris Woods.
Despite their play during their non-conference schedule, Eastern Kentucky still has their doubters, and tonight’s win likely didn’t do anything to change their minds. Quality of competition has been the concern, and EIU is the seventh win for the Colonels against teams with a 200+ RPI. It was a dominating win, final score aside, as EIU was never in this game after the first five minutes.
Eastern Illinois continues to struggle, as is expected from this team. Freshman Alex Austin had another solid night, as we’re starting to see on a more consistent basis. The Panthers committed 13 turnovers, which is a lot considering the few number of possessions in this game.
Eastern Kentucky will host SIU Edwardsville (4-7, 0-1) on Saturday. Eastern Illinois wraps up their “Death Valley” road swing against Morehead State. (7-8, 0-1)