RICHMOND, Ky. – With 12 seconds to play and his team down one, senior guard Corey Walden hit a tough running layup that helped Eastern Kentucky advance to the quarterfinals of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT) with a 66-65 victory over High Point Friday night.
The Colonels will play Wednesday night in the quarterfinals of the CIT at McBrayer Arena against an opponent to be named later. There is no formal bracket for the tournament. The match-ups for each round are determined after the preceding round is completed.
High Point (23-10) guard Haiishen McIntyre missed the front end of a one-and-one with 20 seconds to go and his team ahead by one. Eric Stutz grabbed the rebound, outlet passed to Walden who took the ball to the rim and scored the game-winner.
The Panthers had one more chance to win, but sophomore guard Anthony Lindauer missed a corner jumper that went off the left side of the rim. Isaac McGlone grabbed the rebound to seal it for the Colonels (21-11).
The game was never in favor of either team for an extended time. The two teams combined for seven ties and five lead changes and the largest lead never got above 10 for either team.
The Colonels went on an 11-2 run to turn a two-point deficit into a seven-point lead. McGlone hit three-pointers on two straight possessions. His first, from the left wing capped a streak of eight unanswered. His second, this time from the top of the key after an offensive rebound by Stutz, gave the home team a 64-57 lead with 4:02 left to play.
High Point then responded with an 8-0 run of its own from 3:42 until Walden’s game winner with 12 seconds to play.
Walden led EKU with 19 points to go along with seven rebounds, five assists and four steals. Stutz – who broke EKU career record for games played tonight – had a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. McGlone had 14 points and two rebounds, including the one that sealed the win.
High Point forward John Brown led the Panthers. Brown finished with 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting and eight rebounds. Brown had several key baskets down the stretch for the Panthers.
The Colonels shot a scorching hot 13-of-25 from three-point land and limited High Point to just 7-of-16. EKU also totaled 10 steals. Eastern shot just two free throws the entire game.
Eric Stutz played in his 132nd career game, breaking the program record for career games played. He was tied with former Colonel Jeff Johnson (2010-14) with 131 games played.
High Point’s RPI of 89 is the highest of any team in the CIT and would be the second highest in the OVC.
With its 21st win of the season, the 2014-15 team is now tied with the 1945-46, 1946-47, 1978-79 and 2006-07 teams for the fourth most wins in program history.
Eric Stutz recorded his sixth career double-double, finishing with 16 points and 10 rebounds. It was his third double-double of the season.
Eastern Kentucky is making 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.
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 19 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals.
Corey Walden broke the EKU single season and career records for steals against Belmont in the OVC Tournament semifinals. With four more tonight, he moved to fifth in OVC history with 234 career steals and his 97 steals this season are second-most ever in conference history.
Eastern Kentucky entered the game leading the nation in turnover margin (+7.3) and second in steals (9.7 spg). The Colonels finished with just three fewer turnovers and 10 steals.
The Colonels entered the game second in the nation in free throw percentage at 78.2 percent. Eastern went to the line only twice and made one on Friday against High Point.
Over the last two seasons, a total of 66 games, EKU has committed more turnovers than its opponent only four times.
High Point entered the game in the top-50 in the nation in scoring (73.2 ppg), field goal percentage (48 percent) and three-point shooting (39 percent). The Panthers finished with just 65 points on 46 percent shooting from the field and just 35 percent from behind the arc.
In 64 halves of basketball this season, the Colonels have held their opponents to 30 or fewer points in a half 26 times. That means, 41 percent of the time this season, an Eastern opponent hasn’t scored more than 30 points in a half.
EKU is 41-6 in its last 47 home games.
Eastern now leads the all-time series 4-1 and is 3-0 against the Panthers in Richmond.