RICHMOND, Ky. — The High Point University men’s basketball team took a hard-fought 74-67 loss to Eastern Kentucky on Saturday night at McBrayer Arena in Richmond, Ky. The game was within two points with under three minutes to play. Redshirt-sophomore John Brown led HPU with 18 points and nine rebounds.
“Our guys showed a lot of fight and maturity tonight,” said HPU head coach Scott Cherry. “It came down to a couple plays at the end – a defensive rebound we could have gotten, a foul that could have gone the other way. We took a step in the right direction with a tough mindset all night long against a really good basketball team on the road.”
Brown shot 8-for-13 from the floor en route to his 18 points. Graduate student Allan Chaney scored 16 points with seven rebounds. He went 6-for-6 from the free-throw line.
Eastern Kentucky’s Glenn Cosey led all scorers with 25 points, shooting 5-for-8 from beyond the arc, and he added five assists. Corey Walden scored 16 points with six assists and Marcus Lewis also scored 16 points.
High Point fell to 1-2 while Eastern Kentucky improved to 4-1. Both teams were picked No. 1 in their respective conference preseason polls.
Eastern Kentucky got out to a hot start, taking a 20-11 lead on a Williams three-pointer and was still leading by eight (30-22) with just under three minutes left in the first half. The Colonels had hit seven three-pointers by that point in the game.
High Point finished the first half on a 9-2 run, with all nine HPU points scored by Chaney, to get back within a point (32-31) at the break. It started with a three-point play followed by two more free throws by Chaney. After a pair of free throws by Cosey made it 32-27, Brown threaded a pass to Chaney for a dunk. On the next EKU possession, freshman guard Jorge Perez-Laham stole the ball and the play resulted in two more Chaney free throws.
The second half went back-and-forth the whole way. Cosey started it off with a jumper but the Panthers came back and finally took the lead at 37-36 when Chaney put back a Brown miss with 16:02 on the clock. It was HPU’s first lead since the opening minutes. Sophomore forward Lorenzo Cugini hit a fast-break jumper to give High Point a three-point lead (39-36). Walden hit a jumper but Cugini followed with another basket, a layup off a long pass Perez-Laham.
In the remaining 15 minutes, there were four ties and 11 lead changes.
With HPU leading 41-38, Cosey drained a three-pointer to tie it. The score was within three points for the next nine minutes. It finally broke higher when the Colonels’ Orlando Williams hit a pair of free throws, the Panthers missed their next shot, and a defensive rebound led to a huge alley-up from Walden to Lewis on the fast break that made it 62-57 with 5:21 to go. The Panthers responded with layups from Devante Wallace and Brown to get within one, which was the closest HPU could get the rest of the way.
High Point shot 50.9 percent from the floor but went to the free-throw line just 13 times in the game, hitting nine. Eastern Kentucky shot 43.6 percent (24-for-55) from the floor, 34.5 percent (10-for-29) from beyond the arc and 66.7 percent (16-for-24) from the line. The Colonels scored 20 points off turnovers.
The Panthers are back on the road when they take on William & Mary on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Williamsburg, Va. High Point will look to avenge a loss to the Tribe at the Millis Center last season.