Men's Basketball

Eastern Kentucky ends Morehead State's home rule

EKU's Spencer Perrin (32) grabbed one of the rebounds that didn't go to Morehead State's Kenneth Faried, who had 21.
EKU's Spencer Perrin (32) grabbed one of the rebounds that didn't go to Morehead State's Kenneth Faried, who had 21. AP

MOREHEAD — Nothing fancy about how Eastern Kentucky snapped Morehead State's 24-game home-court winning streak Saturday.

Good ol' defense and sinking clutch free throws carried the Colonels to a 59-49 victory before an ESPNU television audience and a Johnson Arena crowd of 5,822.

Call it payback for last year, when Morehead ended EKU's 19-game home-floor win streak at McBrayer Arena.

"You couldn't ask for anything better — rival game, away, everybody's against you, national TV," said EKU senior Josh Daniel, who made four of nine three-pointers and four of four free throws en route to 18 points. "And come in here and get a win."

Morehead had won six of the previous seven games in the series.

The outcome left both teams with 5-4 records in the Ohio Valley Conference.

EKU (11-9) won its fourth in a row overall and fifth in a row on the road despite getting outrebounded 50-28, and going more than 111/2 minutes without a field goal.

Morehead's 6-foot-8 senior, Kenneth Faried, tightened his grip on the national lead in rebounding by grabbing 21, matching EKU's total of six on the offensive glass.

"Our guys did a tremendous job defensively," Coach Jeff Neubauer said. "That's been our focus since Christmas."

His credo that defense must carry the Colonels sank in during a New Year's holiday trip to Georgia and Georgia Southern, he said.

"Our guys have played the best defense not only for this year, but maybe for the last three years," Neubauer said. "So they deserved this win today, and I couldn't be more proud."

Joshua Jones added 14 points for the Colonels, who shot 11-for-31 from three-point range and 14-for-17 from the foul line. Justin Stommes and Spencer Perrin scored nine each, the former leading EKU with four assists.

Morehead (12-8) got 13 points and four assists from Demonte Harper, who said that having the home win streak snapped "definitely will add fuel to our fire. This just motivates us."

Drew Kelly came off the bench to notch 10 points and six rebounds. Faried, averaging 17.6 points and 13.3 rebounds, was held to six points and committed seven of the Eagles' 18 turnovers.

Morehead shot 29.6 percent (16-for-54) from the field, 7-for-22 on three-pointers and a mere 10-for-22 at the free-throw line.

The strategy against Faried was the usual, but the execution was extraordinary.

"Double-team, keep the ball out of his hands, box him out," Jones said of EKU's task. "Obviously, he's probably the best rebounder in the country if he still gets 21 on a double team."

Faried said he was frustrated with himself, not his teammates, "because I expect a lot out of me. .... It is frustrating when you're at home, especially when you expect to hit certain shots, but you can't dwell on that."

Morehead led 24-21 at halftime, as EKU scored only three free throws over the last 9:30.

The field-goal drought didn't end until Jones hit a three-pointer with 17:53 left.

EKU overtook the Eagles 29-28 when Jaron Jones hit a mid-range jumper with 12 minutes left.

The lead seesawed until Daniel drained a three-pointer with 5:00 left to give the Colonels the upper hand for keeps, 42-41.