RICHMOND, Ky. – The Eastern Kentucky University men’s basketball team used a big night at the free throw line to earn a season-opening 97-87 victory over the visiting IUPUI Jaguars on Friday night at McBrayer Arena.
EKU (1-0) made 45 free throws in the win, including 13 in the final two minutes of play to seal it. In all, the Colonels shot 80 percent (45-of-56) from the stripe.
Five Colonels reached double figures on the night. Nick Mayo, a Preseason All-OVC selection, led the way with 24. The sophomore also nabbed eight rebounds and went a perfect 12-for-12 from the charity stripe.
Freshman Asante Gist notched 21 points in his EKU debut. The native of East Orange, New Jersey also pulled down seven rebounds and dished out five assists. Senior Jaylen Babb-Harrison tallied 13 points, going 3-for-5 from three-point land. Fellow senior Isaac McGlone scored 11 points, while junior transfer Dillon Avare poured in 11 points off the bench.
The Colonels trailed the Jaguars, 4-3, early in the first half, but a Mayo three-pointer gave EKU a lead it would not surrender again. Mayo, Babb-Harrison and McGlone all hit three-pointers in the first three minutes of the game. EKU went 6-of-15 from three-point range in the first half, and took a 42-28 lead into the locker room at the break.
Eastern opened the second half with an 18-8 run – highlighted by a one-handed Mayo put-back dunk – to extend the lead to 60-36. The 24-point advantage was the biggest of the night for the Colonels.
The Jaguars attempted a late rally, eventually getting the lead down to eight, 91-83, with 34 seconds on the clock; however, that was as close as they would get, as the Colonels went 13-of-14 from the stripe down the stretch to ice it.
IUPUI (0-1) was led by Darell Combs’ 28 points. The Jaguars made 20-of-27 free throw attempts.
Eastern Kentucky worked hard to total a combined 36 points off turnovers and second chance points.
The Colonels return to action Monday night against the UNC Wilmington. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at McBrayer Arena.
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