The Eastern Kentucky University men’s basketball team snapped a four-game losing streak with an 86-72 win over Lipscomb on Tuesday.
The win also marked the first-ever ASUN Conference victory in program history.
“We needed this. We just needed to get one. Going through what we’ve been going through recently, we just needed to get a game,” EKU head coach A.W. Hamilton said. “I thought last game we had a little more pop to us. This game, we had pop.”
The Colonels were led by Tariq Balogun, who had a career-high 16 points on a perfect 6-6 from the field and 4-4 from the free-throw line.
“He played really well. This was a great basketball game for Riq. When we needed it the most, he played his best,” said Hamilton.
Balogun’s presence was felt on both ends of the court. His blocked shot near the end of the first half set up a basket in the paint for Devontae Blanton, which put EKU ahead 41-37 at the half. Balogun finished with four blocks.
“I love blocking shots. Especially when people try to dunk on me, you know, it’s not going to happen very often,” Balogun said.
EKU started slow offensively and trailed by two early in the first half. A quick eight-point run shifted the momentum, and the Colonels never trailed again.
Michael Moreno sparked the Colonel offense in the second half. He scored eight straight points, including two of his four threes, in a span of two minutes to put EKU in front, 62-49.
“He played with confidence,” said Hamilton. “He’s a really good basketball player. When he’s playing with confidence and having fun, he really impacts winning for us.”
The Colonels extended the lead to 18 on a Braxton Beverly three with 6:56 remaining, and maintained a steady double-digit margin for the remainder of the game.
The Colonels had a well-balanced offense, with five players finishing in double figures in scoring. Beverly tallied a career-high 13 assists and 11 points. Blanton earned a double-double as well, with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Curt Lewis chipped in 14 points and a team-high three steals.
EKU shot 44.9 percent from the field, including 43.2 percent from three-point range on 16-37 shooting.
“We’ve been dying for this, for this first win so it feels great to get it. I think today we were just really unselfish,” Beverly said. “It was hitting the right guys, always looking to make the extra play and not trying to do too much individually. I think that was a huge key for us coming into it.”
With the win, EKU now sits at 9-10 overall and 1-4 in ASUN Conference play.
EKU returns to action against North Florida on Saturday, Jan. 22. Tip-off from McBrayer Arena is set for 7 p.m.