By Bob Flynn
Register Sports Writer
MADISON COUNTY —
The Colonels dropped their second straight game on the road Wednesday, falling to North Carolina A&T 78-67.
A game that wasn’t pretty for the Colonels at the start — four turnovers and no shots the first 3:20 of the game — turned really ugly in the second half.
After a Glenn Cosey free throw gave EKU a 17-point lead at 37-20, the Aggies held the Colonels scoreless the final 7:26 of the half while they went on a 39-9 run through the first 12 minutes of the second half to take a 59-46 lead.
The Colonels could get no closer than nine the rest of the way.
EKU coach Jeff Neubauer said in a radio interview that several things contributed to the loss, including depth when several Colonels got in foul trouble in the first half and turnovers.
“The most important thing is that we couldn’t find ways to score. I didn’t think our fundamental basketball was very good at the offensive end... we were very sloppy with the ball. For us to have 19 turnovers is just incredible,” Neubauer said. “Defensively I thought we played with really good effort for most, or maybe all the whole first half, where we forced 14 turnovers. The second half we only forced four turnovers. Our turn and sprint speed was not nearly the same in the second half. The first half effort in transition wasn’t bad, but when you are missing shots it does lead to transition opportunities.”
After the slow start, the Colonel offense caught fire. Trailing 16-13, Mike DiNunno got it started with a long three pointer to tie it and ignite an 11-0 run that gave the Colonels a 24-16 lead.
After an A&T free throw, EKU scored 23 of the next 27 points to take their largest lead of the night. During the two runs, the Colonels knocked down eight of nine three pointers.
After an A&T timeout and a switch to a man-to-man defense, the Colonels offense struggled to get anything done, going scoreless the rest of the half, and things didn’t get any better the rest of the night.
After hitting 12 of their 24 shots in the first half, EKU was eight-of-27 in the second half for 29.6 percent, and finished shooting 39.2 percent for the game. That is only the third time this season EKU has been held to less than 40 percent shooting in a game.
The Colonels really struggled to get anything done in the paint against the Aggies. The inside game of Jeff Johnson, Eric Stutz and Deverin Muff, which has been strong all season, could muster only nine points and one rebound between them while committing four turnovers.
Neubauer said the A&T defense contributed to some of the struggles inside.
“I thought that that was a place we could attack A&T here tonight. Maybe not to score, because they really swarm the post,” Neubauer said. “But we weren’t able to catch it deep enough, so if you can’t get deep touches it really affects the rest of the game.”
DiNunno scored a game-high 22 points for the Colonels, including five three pointers, and 7-of-8 free throws. Marcus Lewis came off the bench to score 14 points and collect four steals. Cosey finished with 11 points, a team-high six rebounds and four assists, while Corey Walden had eight points and four rebounds, Jeff Johnson had five points, Tarius Johnson had three and Stutz and Muff had two each.
The Colonels continue their six-game road trip with a 7 p.m. game Friday against High Point.