It was a career-breaking night for sophomore guard Jomaru Brown in front of 5,826 fans at McBrayer Arena, but the Eastern Kentucky University men’s basketball came up short against in-state rival Western Kentucky University by a final score of 79-71 on Friday night.
Brown capped off the night with 41 points on 16-28 shooting, three rebounds, two steals and two assists. He was the only Colonel to score in double figures. The second lead- ing scorers were seniors Lachlan Anderson and Ty Taylor with nine points a piece. Anderson added four rebounds, one assist and a steal in 15 minutes of action. Taylor finished with four rebounds, three steals and two assists.
“I’m a huge believer in him [Brown],” head coach A.W. Hamilton said. “I coach him harder than anyone else on my team... He has a chance to be a superstar... I don’t remember the last time someone got 41 in a game at Eastern and let alone an Eastern and Western game.”
Brown’s 41 points are the most by a Colonel since Lavoris Jerry scored 41 on Eastern Illinois in February, 2001.
“I owe it all to my teammates and coach for recognizing that I caught fire and it was just the bottom of the net for most of them... I probably took some forced shots too,” Brown said.
Turnovers hurt the Colonels as the Hilltoppers forced 19 and were able to score 23 points off of the mistakes.
“Turnovers have hurt us this year so far,” Hamilton said. “We’re going to fix it and when we do we are going to be pretty dag-gone good. We have a lot of talent on this team.”
Sophomore, Tre King, came into the contest averaging 9.7 points-per-game and did not scored his first bucket until 6:54 left in the second half. A couple plays later he fouled out trying to rebound on offense.
Junior, Russhard Cruickshank, could not find his rhythm either, going 0-4 from the field. He came into the game averaging 8.7 points-per-game. He finished with two points from the free throw line, four turnovers, one steal and an assist.
EKU shot a dismal 25.9 percent from three and many players couldn’t find room to score as the Colonels shot 44.3 percent from the field against the Hilltoppers.
Hamilton said this was a game that his team will use to improve and learn from.
“The positive is that there are things that we are doing that we can fix,” Hamilton said. “We had 19 turnovers and those were unforced turnovers.”
Injuries also hurt the Colonels Friday night as they had to play without sophomore, Houston King and junior, Peyton Broughton.
“We played without Houston King who is an important piece of our program and we’re going to get Peyton Broughton back so I’m excited about our group,” Hamilton said.
Broughton has been battling a leg injury since the summer.
The Hilltoppers were led by NBA prospect, Charles Bassey. He finished with a double-double, 18 points and 12 rebounds.
“You have to give Western Kentucky a lot of credit, they have a really good team,” Hamilton said. “They have a [NBA] lottery pick on their team who is special.”
Madison Central graduate and Richmond native, Isaiah Cozart saw some playing time against the Colonels. In four minutes, Cozart grabbed three rebounds and one block.
The Hilltoppers stay undefeated (3-0) on the season. This is the first time WKU has started its season 3-0 since the 2007-08 season.
“In today’s basketball, it’s never easy to go anywhere and win on the road,” WKU head coach Rick Stansbury said. “We knew what we were walking into. We knew this was a monster game for them, and we were going to get their best shot. But I’m awful proud of our kids for the way we responded, and we did it in different ways.”
The Colonels fall to 2-2 on the season as they prepare for Alice Lloyd College on Tuesday, Nov. 19 at 7 p.m.
“Our guys love to work and they’re going to get back to work,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton was pleased with the fight his team showed against a team that is projected to win the Conference USA championship this season.
“Here is what we are at Eastern Kentucky, we are going to fight until the last whistle and the last horn sounds and our fans are going to fight with us,” Hamilton said.
Fans will have a chance to watch the Colonels at McBrayer Arena on Tuesday, Nov. 19 before they head to Washing- ton, D.C. for the inaugural Battle for the Capital from Nov. 22 to 23.