Eastern Kentucky opened up the season at home on Wednesday and fell to 25th-ranked Marshall by a final score of 105-77.
Fans came out in full force to support the Colonels as they opened the season at home. McBrayer Arena saw the biggest crowd in over a decade as 5,189 fans showed up to cheer on the Colonels, according to EKU Sports. Marshall fans even made the trip from West Virginia to support the Thundering Herd.
“This was an awesome crowd. I’m so proud to be the coach. I’m so proud of our fans, they showed up,” head coach A.W. Hamilton said after the game.
The game started out close with four lead changes, but Marshall soon controlled the lead for the rest of the game.
EKU came out with a lot of energy. Under Hamilton's new style, Eastern’s game plan is to press on defense, but EKU was unable to press Marshall effectively.
“If you’re a pressing team and you don’t score, it’s hard to get into your press and that hurt us. We couldn't buy one,” Hamilton said.
At halftime, the score was in favor of Marshall 57-38.
Hamilton wasn't pleased with the team’s lack of three point completions. EKU went 3 for 27 on three point field goals.
The second half looked similar to the first. EKU finished the second half with a 34.2 percent (13-28) field goal percentage and an 11.1 (1-9) percent three point percentage.
The Colonels turned the ball over 17 times. Marshall scored 25 points off of those turnovers.
Eastern Kentucky was led by senior Nick Mayo. The Maine native recorded a double-double with 27 points and a career-high 15 rebounds. He went perfect at the free throw line in the game, going eight for eight. Mayo also finished the game with three blocks in the game, a team high.
“We got a superstar on our team. Nick Mayo is an absolute superstar,” Hamilton said. “He was awesome. He had 15 rebounds. [With his work in the weight room] he can now carve space out now and can get rebounds. We are seeing the results of that now,” Hamilton said.
Mayo’s effort brought him to within 225 points of Matt Witt’s career points record set in 2006. He is now sixth on Eastern’s all-time scoring list with 1,608 points.
“We’re going to build on this and we are going to get better. If you’re an EKU fan, just pray that we don’t go 3 for 27 from three again and then there will be much brighter days,” Hamilton said.
Marshall (1-0) was led by CJ Burk’s 30-point effort on 12-of-15 shooting from the field. Jon Elmore had 20 points, along with a game-high six assists, while Taevion Kinsey tacked on 14 points for the Thundering Herd.
Eastern will be back in action on Saturday when they travel to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.