BOCA RATON, Fla. – In a game that saw 13 lead changes and 12 ties, Eastern Kentucky came up short in a 69-66 loss at Florida Atlantic on Monday.
With the game tied for the final time, 60-60, FAU’s Javier Lacunza hit a three-pointer from the corner with four seconds left on the shot clock to give his team the lead for good. The Owls (6-4) went up by six, 68-62, on a three-pointer by Jackson Trapp with 27 seconds left in the game.
EKU (6-5) scored four straight on a dunk by Ja’Mill Powell and a lay-up by Corey Walden to get within two. Trapp missed one of two free throws with four seconds remaining leaving the Colonels with a chance to tie, but Walden’s shot from one step inside half court missed.
Walden led Eastern with 15 points to go along with four steals and three rebounds. Eric Stutz added 13 points, six assists and five rebounds.
Trapp hit six 3-pointers and had a game-high 19 points. Kelvin Penn finished with eight points and 14 rebounds. Florida Atlantic hit 11-of-21 from three-point range (52.4 percent) and out-rebounded the Colonels by 16.
The teams battled to a 30-30 tie in the first half after exchanging runs. EKU scored the first five points and led 7-2 early. FAU went on an 18-5 run to take a 20-12 advantage. The Colonels answered with a 12-2 run to go on top by two, 24-22. Denzel Richardson made to lay-ups, the second coming with one second left in the first half, to send the Colonels to the locker room tied.
Six straight by Eastern with about 12 minutes left in the game gave the visitors a five-point margin, their largest of the second half. However, Florida Atlantic answered with six straight of its own to erase the lead and go up by one, 46-45, with 10:16 left to play.
Eastern will be back in game action on Dec. 30 at Coppin State. Tip-off in Baltimore is scheduled for 1 p.m.
Eastern Kentucky entered the game second in the nation in turnover margin (+10.6) and third in steals per game (11.6 spg). The Colonels finished with 14 fewer turnovers and 10 steals.
Florida Atlantic had held its opponents to 59.4 points per game this season.
FAU entered the game limiting its opponents to 24 percent shooting from three-point range this season. After hitting each of their first three attempts, the Colonels missed their final 11 to finish 3-of-14 for 21 percent.
EKU had held three of its previous four opponents to below 33 percent shooting from three-point range. FAU made 12-of-21 for 57 percent.
Florida Atlantic is now 5-0 at home this season.
In its two previous games, Eastern Kentucky had made only 12 trips combined to the free throw line. The Colonels went to the stripe 12 times against FAU.
Tonight was Jeff Neubauer’s 300th game as head coach at EKU. Paul McBrayer (356) is the only other in program history to have coached more games.
Eric Stutz is now 31 points away from becoming the 13th player in Eastern Kentucky to score 1,000 points and grab 500 rebounds.
Corey Walden now needs 52 more steals to break the EKU career record of 221.
The Colonels entered the game with an RPI ranking of 89. FAU had was ranked 210 in the RPI.
This was the first-ever meeting between the two teams.