By Ryan Alves
Jaron Jones knew this season wouldn’t be like his last.
“Coach told me in the offseason that I needed to find my confidence, and that my role would be bigger this year,” Jones said.
Jones is doing just that, as the senior went on a scoring tear – a career high 30 points – in Eastern’s 75-62 win over North Carolina Central Tuesday night.
Jones scored the Colonels’ first 11 points and then their final six points, netting Eastern’s second straight win at McBrayer Arena.
“I was taking what they were giving me,” Jones said. “Coach told me to be more aggressive. It felt good, so I kept being aggressive…I felt like I was on.”
The mark was the most points by a Colonel since Mike Rose scored 30 points in 2007 against Morehead State.
With the game tied at 27 at halftime, Eastern jumped out to a 59-51 lead early in the second half.
But North Carolina Central wouldn’t quit and cut it two with under six minutes to go.
“We didn’t get many stops throughout the second half,” Head Coach Jeff Neubauer said. “We had a tough time guarding them but when we needed stops down the stretch, we did get a few.”
Neubauer called the game a breakout for his team.
“I really believe this is the best we’ve played this year,” Neubauer said. “To me, this is a breakout game. Defensively our first-half effort was outstanding to hold a team to 27 points.”
Part of that effort was due to 22 North Carolina Central turnovers, in which the Colonels scored 22 points off of.
Eastern – with the help of the “Miguel”, something guard D’Mitri Riggs has perfected – were able to pick-pocket North Carolina Central most of the night.
“He saw me doing it one day in film,” Riggs said of Miguel, which helped him finish with seven steals. “It’s named after his dog. It’s like a little puppy pawing at you.”
NCC shot 54.8 percent from the field for the game, which was higher than Eastern’s 51.9 percent, but also told a story of the Colonels’ patience for good shots.
“I’ll have to look at the film, but I don’t think we took a bad shot the whole game,” Neubauer said.
Eastern was led by Jones, but Riggs scored all 17 of his points in the second half.
The Colonels continue their home stand when they play Georgia Southern next Saturday.