By Bob Flynn
Register Sports Writer
The Lady Colonels (12-7, 6-2 OVC) are 10-1 at home this season after Monday’s come-from-behind 62-54 victory over Tennessee State (8-11, 4-4, OVC) in McBrayer Arena.
With the win, EKU remains right behind Belmont in the OVC East Division standings. The Lady Bruins are 8-2 in the conference after a 40-point victory over Morehead State on Monday.
The Lady Colonels stormed back from a 24-18 halftime deficit, scoring 19 of the first 23 points of the second half to grab a 43-30 lead mid-way through the half.
Former EKU Coach Larry Joe Inman’s Lady Tigers didn’t fold and took advantage of several EKU turnovers during a 19-3 run to retake the lead 49-48 with just less than five minutes left in the game.
But, as they did in Saturday’s win over Belmont, the Lady Colonels regrouped after a timeout by coach Chrissy Roberts and quickly regained the lead on a basket by Brittany Coles.
EKU then scored the next seven points to grab an eight-point lead with only 32 seconds to go in the game.
After Kesi Hess hit a three pointer to cut the lead to 57-52, the TSU bench was assessed a technical foul for calling timeout when they didn’t have one left.
Marie Carpenter hit the two technical free throws, then Raechelle Gray and Carpenter hit three more free throws and Coles hit a jumper to seal the win.
Roberts said it wasn’t pretty, but it was a win.
“In the first half, their pressure defense wanted to speed us up and they got us all out of sorts,” Roberts said. “At halftime we talked about taking over the game and getting control. I told them to just go out there and relax, run your sets and execute.”
With a senior laden team, Roberts said, she doesn’t have to say a lot to them.
“Sometimes, having a veteran team, saying nothing sometimes says a lot,” Roberts said. “They know what they were doing wrong. Even at halftime they knew what they needed to do and they made a commitment and came out and did it and got us a W.”
Carpenter, who is still trying to rebound from a broken hand that kept her out of several games, led the Lady Colonels with 19 points.
Jade Barber, who sat out most of the Belmont game in foul trouble, rebounded to post another big game, scoring 15 points and pulling down 15 rebounds.
“Every second I want to be in the game, Barber said. “Having to sit out so long the other night, I had some extra energy tonight and I just wanted to go out and make up for the other night.”
Gray scored seven points, had four assists and three steals, Alex Jones scored six points, grabbed 12 rebounds and had two steals.
Coles finished with six points, seven rebounds and five assists, while Jalisa Bryant had five points and Miranda Maples and LaRa’e Allen had two points each.
The game marked the first time Inman has brought a team into McBrayer Arena since his retirement in 2008.
He is in his first year as the Lady ‘ coach. He spent 20 years on the EKU bench and compiled a 319-244 record with the Lady Colonels and is a member of the EKU Athletics Hall of Fame.
While Roberts downplayed having to coach against her former coach and mentor, Inman couldn’t hide his emotions on returning to the place he spent the majority of his career.
“It was an awful feeling because you spent all those years trying to build a program and all of a sudden you’ve got to try to beat them,” Inman said. “Chrissy was a part of that and its good that she’s over there and doing a good job. But it’s bad when you’ve got to coach against one you tried to help be successful all their life and now you’ve got to try and beat her. It was hard.”
The Lady Colonels hit the road for the next three games, beginning with a matchup with Southeast Missouri State on Saturday.