After a battle between Eastern Kentucky University and Morehead State, the Colonels were unable to secure a spot in the championship game and came up short in their final Ohio Valley Conference tournament, 67-64.
“I love our team, I’m proud of our team… we never gave up,” head coach A.W. Hamilton said. “We hurt ourselves by missing free throws.”
The Colonels came out to a fast start in the first half, with a basket from forward Tre King. Followed by a three-point basket from forward Michael Moreno. The Colonels forced the Eagles to nine turnovers in only the first ten minutes of the game.
Guard Wendell Green Jr. was on fire from beyond the arc making three out of four. The Colonels shot 35 percent from the field before halftime and had eight fouls. Before the half, the Eagles went on a 12-0 run, allowing them to take the lead, 31-28.
“This group has got a lot to be proud of,” Hamilton said. “Our biggest cheerleader this year was Jomaru Brown and he’ll be back next season.”
Brown has missed a majority of the season due to an injury. Brown was named a preseason all conference selection.
A slow start to the second half for the Colonels but a shot from King gave EKU their first free throws of the game. The Eagles came out ready to attack the Colonels in the second half. King received his fourth foul of the game with 15 minutes left, putting him in foul trouble. The Colonels were able to regroup after not scoring for four minutes and go on a 6-0 run.
“I hate it for our seniors, they’ve poured their heart into it,” Hamilton said.
Green Jr. led the Colonels with a big performance of 29 points, four assists and three rebounds.
“I’m proud of my team, we fought hard,” Green Jr. said. “It's emotional, everyone in the locker room felt like we could win the championship.”
Moreno trailed right behind with 14 points, eight rebounds and two assists.
Curt Lewis pitched in 11 points, three rebounds and two assists.
King had five points and three rebounds.
Devontae Blanton put up four points and two rebounds.
The Colonels shot 41 percent from the field, while the Eagles got up 49 percent. EKU was able to force the Eagles into 19 turnovers.
“This group loves to play, they love to compete… we’ve got to figure out what's next for us,” Hamilton said. “I’m so proud of our fans and I’m so thankful for our fans and it's an honor to be head coach at Eastern Kentucky.”
The Colonels end with an all-time OVC regular-season record of 555-532. In over 73 years in the OVC, EKU won six OVC regular-season titles, six OVC tournament titles and had eight NCAA tournament appearances.
EKU will be joining the ASUN Conference July 1.