By Cameron Blair
Eastern’s men’s basketball team used a 26-2 scoring run and a career night from junior Mike Rose to defeat OVC foe Jacksonville State 71-55 Thursday night at McBrayer Arena.
The win moved Eastern into a fourth-place tie in the OVC with a 5-4 record in conference play.
“This win gave us some of our confidence back,” Rose said.
The Colonels and Gamecocks appeared to be heading for a nip-and-tuck affair through the first 13:07 of the first half. This stretch of play featured four lead changes and three ties before Jacksonville State took a 12-11 lead with 6:51 left in the first half.
Jacksonville State scored only two points during the ensuing 7:38 while the Colonels scored 26 to take a 37-14 lead. Eastern’s defense also forced five turnovers and held the Gamecocks without a field goal during the run.
“We fed off of our defense tonight,” senior center Darnell Dialls said. “Our play on defense really got the guys going.”
Head Coach Jeff Neubauer agreed with Dialls.
“For us to hold them to four 3-pointers on the night showed how well we played on the defensive end,” Neubauer said.
Jacksonville State was never within 13 points during the rest of the game.
Eastern had major contributions on the offensive end from the combination of Rose, Dialls and Adam Leonard.
Rose notched his first career double-double, scoring 17 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. The junior forward was coming off a game against Eastern Illinois in which he was held to just seven points.
Neubauer was impressed with more than Rose’s scoring, however.
“Rose not only scored 17 points; he gets 10 rebounds, four assists and three steals,” Neubauer said. “And that kind of play really allows us to compete.”
Senior center Darnell Dialls flirted with a triple-double during the game. Dialls scored nine points, dished out nine assists and grabbed eight rebounds against the Gamecocks.
“If the game would have lasted five more minutes, I would have got it,” Dialls said. “But I would rather get nine assists than 20 points any day.”
Leonard led the Colonels in scoring for the game. The sophomore guard scored 19 points, and his performance was an indication of the Colonels efficiency as he made six of his 11 shots without a turnover.
Eastern shot 50 percent (28-of-56) from the field for the game, including 40 percent (9-of-23) from 3-point range. The Colonels also had 20 assists for the game and turned the ball over 11 times.
“We executed really well on offense for 37 minutes,” Neubauer said. “We valued the ball and made good decisions out there.”
The win also extended the Colonel’s winning streak at home over Jacksonville State to five games.