The Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) men’s basketball team took on Western Kentucky University (WKU) in front of 6,303 fans on Thursday, Nov. 7 at Baptist Health Arena in Richmond. The Colonels lost to the Hilltoppers, 60-66, in front of the largest crowd Alumni Coliseum has seen since 2004.
WKU scored the first points of the night with a 3-point shot by guard Emmanuel Akot.
EKU quickly responded and hit a 3-point shot by junior Michael Moreno. Moreno scored his second 3-point shot of the night with 17:08 on the clock bringing the Colonels within two, 8-6.
WKU held the lead until the clock hit 14 minutes. With a 2-point shot by junior Dardan Kapiti, the Colonels tied the score at 11. Freshman Leland Walker then drained a 3-point shot to give EKU the lead, 14-11.
WKU tied the score again at 14 after Dontaie Allen scored a 3-point shot. EKU junior Devontae Blanton responded with a jump shot, regaining the lead for EKU, 16-14.
There was no turning back for the Colonels as they continued to lead for the rest of the first half and extended their lead to nine.
Boos erupted in the stadium with 2:09 left after a foul was called on Walker. WKU’s Allen made one free throw and missed one to cut EKU’s lead, 30-26.
With under one minute to play, Baptist Health Arena exploded with cheers from Colonels fans as EKU kept the lead and ended the half, 35-30.
Moreno led the Colonels with nine points, two rebounds and one steal. Blanton followed with six points and four rebounds.
WKU scored first in the second half with a layup by Akot. A layup by Luke Framton got the Hilltoppers within one.
Robb got hot with 18 minutes left in the game, scoring a 3-point shot and layup before Blanton’s jump shot to widen the gap, 42-34, favoring the Colonels.
WKU kept the scoring up getting within five points, 44-39, with 13:46 left on the clock.
With 12:22 on the clock, the Hilltoppers cut EKU’s lead to one, 46-45.
After Robb made a 3-point shot, WKU returned the favor with Khristian Lander making a 3-point shot. Shortly after, WKU’s Fallou Diagne also hit a 3-point shot, giving the Hilltoppers their first lead, 51-49, since the 18th minute of the first half.
The Colonels and Hilltoppers played a back and forth game the entire second half.
Cozart made a layup to regain the lead for the Colonels, 54-53, at the eight minute mark.
WKU scored a 3-point shot by Jarius Hamilton to retake the lead, 56-54. Frampton hit another three pointer to extend WKU’s lead to 59-55 with six minutes left in the game.
Freshman Turner Buttry took a charge at the five minute mark to give EKU possession. The Colonels capitalized and sophomore DaShawn Jackson drew a foul from Frampton, making one of two free throws to put EKU within three.
Robb fouled down the court and WKU’s Dayvion McKnight made one of two free throws to put the Colonels down, 60-56, with 3:55 to play.
Freshman Tayshawn Comer drew a foul from Frampton, scoring one of two free throws to tighten the gap, 62-57, with the Hilltoppers leading.
EKU’s Jackson made a jump shot to put the Colonels down by five, 64-59, with 2:05 left in the second half.
Moreno drew a foul from McKnight, scoring one of two free throws.
With 28 seconds to play, Ukomadu drew a foul, but missed both free throws.
The Colonels were unable to come back and lost, 60-66.
EKU’s offense shot 33.9% from the floor, and 32.3% from behind the arch compared to WKU shooting 42.9% from the floor and 58.8% from 3-point range.
Western Kentucky Head Coach Rick Stansbury spoke on the win at Baptist Health Arena.
“We knew this was going to be a difficult game. You know it’s going to mean something, and we knew what it was going to be, that’s why we scheduled the game,” said Stansbury.
With the largest crowd that Alumni Coliseum has seen since 2004, EKU Head Coach A.W. Hamilton said the crowd of just over 6,300 felt like 20,000
“It felt like 20,000 fans. The entire city of Richmond and the entire county of Madison was behind us, that’s what it felt like. We have an unbelievable fan base, we just set the school record again for most season tickets sold … then the second game in this building we have the biggest crowd since 2004. It’s a pretty special place here,” said Hamilton
Both teams struggled with free throws throughout the night with EKU recording 8 of 17 and WKU recording 8 of 14.
EKU senior guard Cooper Robb acknowledged the need to make the shots, as well as practice free throws with the entire team.
“(The percentage missed) means we have to lock in more at practice. They were 8-14, we were 8-17. I think with a couple more stops, we win the game. I mean yeah, free throws hurt us. Defense hurt us,” said Robb
The Colonels will continue their season on Sunday, Nov. 13 at the University of Cincinnati with a tipoff scheduled for 12 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN+ and aired on WCYO 100.7 FM.