KSU win streak ends at Eastern Kentucky
Feb. 6—Kennesaw State's Division I-era best eight game winning streak was snapped Saturday night with a 77-74 loss at Eastern Kentucky.
While the loss dropped the Owls to 18-7 and 10-2 in the ASUN, they got some help from Lipscomb, who defeated Liberty, allowing KSU to remain in a first-place tie with the Flames. For the Colonels (16-9, 9-3), the win kept them in third place and moves them within one game of first place, with a game against Liberty looming next Saturday.
KSU was looking to complete a two-game weekend road sweep of its opponents from Kentucky, but after a double-overtime win at Bellarmine on Thursday, the Owls appeared to fatigue in the second half against Eastern Kentucky.
After leading 43-34 at the half, Kennesaw State was held to 33.3% shooting over the last 20 minutes, including 2-of-10 from behind the 3-point line. At the same time, after holding EKU to 37% shooting in the first half, the Colonels made 52% in the second.
Despite that, coach Amir Abdur-Rahim said he believed his players were going to win up to the last possession.
"I know the heart of my guys, I know the character of my guys,' he said in a release. "Not for one second did I think that game was over when they went up eight. We've been thought a lot, a ton of adversity, we've been in situations like that before where we folded in past years. I knew we would battle back, but this is part of becoming a championship program, where you go through nights where things don't go your way.
"Now it's going to be how do we respond, how do we bounce back, how well does our connection stay? I think it's going to stay because again, I know the heart of my guys and I know the character of our guys."
Eastern Kentucky started the second half by hitting its first seven shots from the floor to close the gap to 54-52. KSU lead 56-53 when the Colonels went on a 17-6 run over the next five minutes to go up 70-62 with 5:32 to play.
The Owls scored on three consecutive possessions to close with 70-68 and had a chance to tie or take the lead. Terrell Burden, who led KSU with 16 points and a season-high 10 assists, drove the lane and had back-to-back shot attempts blocked by EKU big man Isaiah Cozart. The second block led to a fast break dunk by Tayshawn Comer, who was also fouled on the play. The free throw pushed the Colonels lead back to five at 73-68.
Two free throws by Brandon Stroud, who finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds, along with two baskets by Burden pulled KSU back within 75-74 with 6 seconds to play.
Devonte Blanton, who scored a game-high 24 points, made two free throws to set up the final play, but Burden's 3-pointer at the buzzer bounced off the back of the rim.
KSU jumped to an early lead, and was up by as many at 13 points in the first half. The Owls were never able to extend the advantage, but held a double-digit lead the majority of the opening 20 minutes. A 3-pointer by Chris Youngblood with 1:51 left in the half pushed the lead back to 12 at 32-20, but Blanton's jumper with 20 seconds left pulled EKU within nine at the break.
Youngblood finished the game with 12 points and Demond Robinson added 10 points and seven rebounds. Comer finished with 15 points, Leland Walker had 14 and Cozart finished with 10 for Eastern Kentucky.
The Owls will complete its three-game road trip with a game at Jacksonville State and Thursday, and then will turn around and host the Gamecocks at the KSU Convocation Center on Saturday.