UT Martin’s late 3 pointer ends EKU’s postseason run in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament

RICHMOND, Ky. – Eastern Kentucky University’s men’s basketball team fell victim to a game-winning three-pointer, falling to the University of Tennessee at Martin, 70-69, Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT) at McBrayer Arena.

 

With 3.3 seconds to play, UT Martin (21-12) guard Marshun Newell hit a three in front of the Skyhawk bench to win the game.  The ensuing inbound pass was intercepted at half-court, ending the Colonels’ season.

 

EKU fought back from a 14-point first half deficit and eventually took the lead on an Isaac McGlone steal and layup with 14:42 to play.  The Colonels made just one of their first 13 three-point attempts, putting themselves in a 21-7 deficit midway through the first half.

 

The Colonels got hot to end the half, and continued to shoot well until the end of the game. Eastern (21-12) outscored the Skyhawks 39-34 in the second half, and made 9-of-18 three-pointers. 

 

Senior guard Timmy Knipp started the second half run, making two quick three’s.  The Colonels then went on a 13-3 run to grab the lead that lasted all the way until the four-minute mark.

 

A 16-4 UT Martin run pushed the game back into the visitors’ favor.  Included in the run were four straight three-pointers by the Skyhawks, three of those from Newell.

 

EKU answered back with a three-pointer from Knipp to tie the game at 60 with 3:50 to play. The Colonels took a 69-67 lead with one minute to play.

 

Corey Walden had 21 points, seven rebounds, six assists and two steals. All of those were team-highs. Walden shot 8-of-12 from the field and 5-of-9 from three-point range.

 

EKU made 15-of-39 three-pointers – the 39 shots were a season-high. All nine Colonels that played scored, including a three-pointer from junior guard Tommy Matthews, the first of his career.

 

The Colonels forced 17 turnovers and committed just 11 fouls during the entire game.

 

UT Martin was led by junior forward Twymound Howard with 23 points and seven rebounds. Newell contributed 16 points to the total, including four three-pointers that all came in the second half.

 

This game was the last for the most-winning class in EKU basketball history.  Walden, Knipp, Eric Stutz, Deverin Muff and Robbie Stenzel finished their careers with 86 wins the last four years.

 

NOTES

Eastern Kentucky made its third straight appearance in a national postseason tournament.  The Colonels participated in the CIT in 2013 and played in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2014.  EKU now has six postseason tournament trips in the last 11 years.

 

The game featured two of the top-3 teams in the OVC in scoring defense.  EKU came into the contest first at 63.4 points allowed per game.  UT Martin was third at 64.9 points per game.

 

The Colonels held nine of their last 10 opponents to less than 70 points.

 

Over the last two seasons, a total of 67 games, EKU has committed more turnovers than its opponent only four times.

 

Entering the game, Corey Walden was leading the nation with an average of 3.13 steals per game.  He finished with two steals.

 

Corey Walden broke the EKU single season and career records for steals against Belmont in the OVC Tournament semifinals.  With two more tonight, he finished fifth in OVC history with 236 career steals and his 99 steals this season are second-most ever in conference history.

 

The Skyhawks entered the game shooting 47 percent from the field and leading the OVC in three-point shooting at 39 percent.  UTM hit 50 percent of its shots on Wednesday, including 43 percent from deep.

 

Eastern Kentucky entered the game leading the nation in turnover margin (+7.3) and second in steals (9.7 spg).  The Colonels finished with 10 fewer turnovers and 11 steals.

 

Corey Walden is the only player ranked in the top-10 in the OVC in scoring (2nd), field goal percentage (8th), assists (7th) and steals (1st).  He finished with 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting, six assists and two steals.

 

The three-pointer by Tommy Matthews with 8:31 left in the game was the first triple of his career.  The junior had been 0-for-9 from deep.

 

Eric Stutz extended his school record by playing in his 133rd game.  He broke former teammate Jeff Johnson’s (2010-14) record of 131 games played against High Point last week.

 

EKU is 41-7 in its last 48 home games.

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