MACON, Ga. – Sophomore guard Michaela Hunter knocked down a pair of free throws with 10 seconds remaining in regulation to lift the Eastern Kentucky University women’s basketball team past Central Arkansas, 56-55, on Friday at Hawkins Arena in the consolation bracket of the Preseason WNIT.
EKU (1-1) trailed by a point, 55-54, following a layup by Central Arkansas’ Terai Sadler with 1:38 showing on the clock; however, sophomore guard Alexus Cooper came up with a crucial steal with 21 seconds remaining and got the ball to Hunter, who was fouled and sent to the line. The Mt. Vernon, Ky. native calmly sank both free-throw attempts to give the Colonels the lead.
Cooper then stole the ball again on UCA’s ensuing possession to seal EKU’s first win of the 2014-15 season.
In all, the Colonels came up with 14 steals in the game, their highest total since a 16-steal performance versus Jacksonville State on Feb. 16, 2013.
EKU’s backcourt duo of Hunter and junior guard Shameekia Murray paced the Colonels on the night with 14 and 15 points, respectively. Hunter also notched team highs in rebounds (six) and steals (four).
Sophomore guard Mariah Massengill made her first-career start at point guard on Friday and contributed seven points and career-best seven assists.
Brianna Mullins led the Sugar Bears with 21 points and eight rebounds in the contest.
The game was a tale of two halves, as UCA led by as many as 10 points in the first half following a three-pointer by Mullins with 4:58 on the clock. A jumper by Murray on Eastern’s ensuing possession, though, sparked the Colonels on a 12-2 run as a bucket by Hunter just before the buzzer made it a tie game, 29-29, at halftime.
A bucket in the paint by junior forward Shelly Harper right out of halftime gave EKU its first lead since the 11:18 mark of the first half, and the Colonels led until 2:24 remained in the game.
Eastern stifled Central Arkansas to just 29.6 percent (8-of-27) shooting from the field in a dominant second half of play.
The Colonels will now play the winner of Mercer/Jackson State on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. ET.