RICHMOND — The beauty of Morehead State's visit to McBrayer Arena on Saturday night came in a 58-45 Ohio Valley Conference victory over archrival Eastern Kentucky.
Even the beholder of the beauty agreed that the method wasn't pretty, though.
"It's ugly, it's not pretty," Eagles Coach Donnie Tyndall said of a defense-dominated game. "Both teams are playing so hard and so physical, it makes it tough on the offensive end."
Morehead, which won 57-54 at home against the Colonels on Jan. 14, has won nine of the last 11 in the series.
"Tonight just happened to be our night," Tyndall said, "because usually when we play Eastern Kentucky it's a game that comes down to the last two minutes. ... We defended well and, coupled with that, Eastern Kentucky happened to miss a couple shots that they usually make."
The Eagles (14-13, 7-6 OVC) were led by Marsell Holden with 12 points. Included were three three-pointers in a span of 1:34 that pushed Morehead's lead from 27-17 to 37-19 in the second half. He added a free throw to complete a four-point play.
"Coach said in their 1-3-1 that we were going to get a couple open looks in the corner, and just be ready to knock it down," said Holden, who was the Texas junior-college player of the year last season. "And when the opportunity came my way, the shots ended up falling down."
The Eagles never let Eastern get closer than 12 points the rest of the way.
Morehead's zone frustrated the Colonels from the outset.
EKU (14-13, 6-7) shot 4 for 24 (16.7 percent) in the first half, 2 for 15 (13.3 percent) from long range. The Colonels warmed a bit in the second half, finishing 15 for 49 (30.6 percent) — their worst percentage of the season.
The previous futility mark of 31 percent (13 for 42) came in the loss at Morehead.
"Any time that you have such a struggle from the field, you certainly feel like you have some missed opportunities," EKU Coach Jeff Neubauer said. "We had some good looks from the three, especially in the first half, that I would want our shooters taking every time, and we didn't convert. But also around the rim. We had some put-back opportunities where we missed two-footers. ... In addition to missing shots, you always have to give the defense credit.
"Morehead did execute their zone very well. They did a real good job of taking away the high post."
The Eagles, leading 19-12 while shooting 7 for 22 (31.8 percent) in the first half, finished 19 for 46 (41.3 percent).
"I thought our first-half defense may have been our best defensive half of the year," Neubauer said. "Not only to hold them to 19 points, but to hold them to 31 percent from the field, we really did a good job doubling the post and then scrambling and recovering. But we didn't take advantage of that great defensive effort."
Lamont Austin and Ty Proffitt backed Holden with eight points each, with Austin handing out five assists.
Jaron Jones paced EKU with 20 points and seven rebounds.
"We just weren't shooting the ball very good," said Jones, a senior out of Bryan Station. "That's the only thing I'd seen. We were getting some looks. We just weren't knocking them down."