The Colonels finished their opening weekend 1-1 after two home games against Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) and UNC Wilmington, respectively.
In their season opener, the two teams showed plenty of physicality, and the Colonels made 45 of 56 (80%) free throws. The Colonels held a 14-point lead in the first half and continued to build on it in the second, going on an 18-8 run capped off by a dunk from preseason All-OVC selection Nick Mayo.
IUPUI came storming back and cut the lead to eight, but the Colonels finished the half 13 for 14 from the free throw line, sealing the deal and winning 97-87.
Freshman guard Asante Gist shined in his EKU debut with 21 points, seven rebounds and five assists, while sophomore Nick Mayo led the Colonels with 24 points and eight rebounds, as well as shot 100% from the free throw line.
The Colonels returned Monday night for a classic game against UNC Wilmington. Wilmington gained a lead of 17 points in the first half and the Colonels could not find an answer, shooting 29% from the field and being out-rebounded by five.
Slowly, the Colonels chipped away at the lead after the half. Mayo opened the game just 1-7 from the field, but ended up shooting 7-17 at the 3-minute mark in the second half. The Colonels also closed the rebounding gap to two.
Their aggressive nature gave them 21 free throw attempts to Wilmington’s four, 15 of which were converted. With just under a minute left, the Colonels closed in, down 63-61 with a minute left. Junior forward Zach Charles got fouled on a shot with 25 seconds left and made both to force overtime.
The Colonels shot 50% from the field and 33% from the three in the second half. The comeback could not give the Colonels enough momentum, however, as Wilmington went on an 11-4 run in an electric McBrayer gymnasium to win the game 78-69.
Mayo led the charge with 20 points and seven rebounds, while senior guard Isaac McGlone added 13 points and shot 3-3 from behind the arc. Charles added a team high 14 rebounds and Gist shot just 4-16 from the field, but was 5-7 from the 3-point line.
The Colonels travel to Auburn, AL to kick off the Cancun Classic today, Nov. 17. Tip is at 9 p.m.