RICHMOND, Ky. - A close-fought battle the entire game, Eastern Kentucky pulled away late as the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team fell in Richmond, Ky., 80-69, in the first of a two-game, OVC road swing into Kentucky this weekend.
The Colonels scored on 16 of their final 17 possessions and used the high percentage to fuel a furious shooting performance in the second half, accounting for 50 points in the final 20 minutes.
The Golden Eagles led at halftime, 33-30, following a 3-pointer from freshman guard Ammanuel Diressa with 29 seconds to go in the half. Tech shot out quickly in the second half, scoring 17 points to in the first 10 minutes.
EKU answered at every turn, however, and used momentum from a flagrant foul called against Dennis Ogbe to turn a 50-50 game to a 57-50 score in under one minute.
Junior guard Jeremiah Samarrippas and the Golden Eagles answered back quickly, going on their own 7-2 run. Samarrippas converted on a 4-point play and drilled a 3-pointer on the very next possession to bring Tech within two points.
EKU senior guard Mike DiNunno connected on two NBA-range three's over the following 90 seconds to give Eastern Kentucky a comfortable lead that it kept for the rest of the game.
Leading the Golden Eagles for the evening were veterans Jud Dillard and Ogbe. A junior forward, Ogbe scored 17 points and pulled down eight rebounds. Dillard, a senior guard from Atlanta, Ga., duplicated the performance of Ogbe, recording 17 and eight, himself.
Samarrippas added 15 points, including four 3-point field goals, and also recorded seven assists. Dillard tied the Tennessee Tech school record for consecutive free-throws made in a season with 30. The streak, which covered the last four outings, included a record-setting performance against Jacksonville State in which he went 14-for-14 from the charity stripe. Dillard hit 11-of-12 attempts against the Colonels, missing his 11th attempt that would have given him the record outright.
Tech will continue its weekend play on Saturday with a visit to Morehead, Ky. The game is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CST as the Golden Eagles look to split their final road trip of the season.