RICHMOND, Ky. — Hot shooting and a stifling defensive effort helped the Eastern Kentucky men’s basketball team jump out to an 18-0 lead in the opening minutes on its way to a convincing 76-64 win over Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon at McBrayer Arena.
With the wire-to-wire win, EKU (9-6) closes out the non-conference season 8-0 at home.
Senior Jarelle Reischel – who missed EKU’s game with a back injury at No. 19 West Virginia on December 21 – led the way with 26 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and four steals. Junior JaVontae Hawkins contributed 15 points, four rebounds and two assists.
The Colonels delivered one of their best defensive efforts of the season in the victory, forcing Manhattan (3-8) into 16 turnovers and converting those turnovers into 26 points. EKU held the Jaspers to 24 percent (6-of-25) shooting from the field and 23 percent (3-of-13) shooting from deep in the first half to build a comfortable lead.
Eastern’s defense coerced the Jaspers into eight turnovers on their first 12 possessions. The Colonels generated 14 points off Manhattan’s early miscues, as an alley-oop dunk by Hawkins gave EKU an 18-0 lead with 14:42 remaining in the first half.
Manhattan did not score a bucket until the 14:29 mark of the first half, when Rashawn Stores got the Jaspers on the board with a three-pointer. Stores’ long ball sparked a 10-0 run over the next 2:18 for Manhattan, closing the Eastern lead to eight, 18-10.
The Colonels, however, outscored the Jaspers 27-11 over the remainder of the first half, and a jumper from freshman Anthony Pratt Jr. gave EKU a 45-21 advantage at halftime.
Manhattan pulled to within 13 points when Shane Richards knocked down a triple from the top of the key to make it 51-38 with 13:14 remaining in the second half; however, Eastern responded with a 13-3 run and pushed its lead back to 23, 64-41, when sophomore Paul Jackson converted a free throw with 7:07 on the clock.
EKU received solid bench performances from Pratt Jr. (eight points, two rebounds), sophomore Greg King (five points, four rebounds, one block) and junior Jaylen Babb-Harrison (nine points, four rebounds, two assists) in the win.
Eastern Kentucky opens OVC play Saturday on the road in Clarksville, Tennessee, when the Colonels take on Austin Peay at 8:00 p.m. ET.