Golden Eagles hold off stubborn EKU Colonels, 63-54

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – For all the excitement surrounding the Tennessee Tech men’s basketball team being just one game out of first place, Eastern Kentucky came to town Thursday just one game back of the Golden Eagles and looking to stake a claim of its own near the top of the race for the championship.

Junior Kevin Murphy scored 25 points and senior Alfred Jones grabbed 14 rebounds to help provide a huge advantage on the glass, and the Golden Eagles outlasted a determined Colonel squad to claim a 63-54 victory.

Tech (12-9/8-4 OVC) stayed within a single game of league-leading Austin Peay, and tied with Morehead State for third place. The Golden Eagles have won three in a row for the first time this year.

And now things really get interesting. Morehead State visits Eblen Center Saturday night, and Austin Peay comes calling on Monday night.

EKU, which had won five consecutive road games, saw its mark slip to 12-11 overall and 6-6 in the OVC.

Murphy was 10-for-15 from the field to finish with a game-high 25 points. Zach Bailed was next in the scoring column with nine, while Jones added seven points along with his 14 rebounds. Terrell Barnes finished with six points and seven rebounds and point guard Zac Swansey added sox points, five rebounds and seven assists.

Spencer Perrin led EKU with 18 points and five rebounds, while Justin Stommes scored 14. Joshua Jones scored eight.

EKU forged to a lead midway in the first half, and the Colonels got up by four, 24-20, to head into halftime.

The visitors made it a six-point edge with Perrin’s basket to open the second half, but that was the biggest lead for the Colonels. Bailey hit a 3-pointer and Murphy scored three to knot the score, and the Golden Eagles went on top with a free throw by Jones.

Tech slowly added to the lead, growing it to as many as 11 points with 5:09 to play on Murphy’s 3-pointer for a 54-43 lead. It proved to be the only double-digit difference in the contest, but the Golden Eagles were able to score enough free throws down the stretch to maintain their lead.

The Golden Eagles shot 34.6 percent (10-for-29) in the first half, and warmed up to 45.8 percent (11-for-24) in the second half. The home team was 17-for-24 at the free throw line.

The Golden Eagles owned a 42-27 advantage on the boards.

Saturday’s doubleheader with Morehead State begins with the women’s showdown for first place at 5:30 p.m., followed by the men’s game at 7:30 p.m. It’s Overton County Night, with residents of that neighboring county ale to purchase tickets for just one dollar each.

It’s also Scout Night, with all Boys Scouts and Girl Scouts admitted free if wearing their uniform.

For ticket information, call the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center at (931) 372-3940.