RICHMOND, Ky. -- Kennesaw State received double-digit scoring from three players, including a game-high 22 points from senior forward Markeith Cummings, but it wasn't enough as Eastern Kentucky's pressure defense and a big second-half on the boards paced the host Colonels to an 85-71 victory in the opening game of the Comfort Suites Invitational at McBrayer Arena in Richmond, Ky., on Friday.
Freshman guard Myles Hamilton scored a career-high 14 points and sophomore guard Delbert Love contributed 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists for the Owls (1-2).
Junior guard Glenn Cosey tallied 21 points to lead a group of four Colonels (2-0) in double figures.
"The game got away from us in the second half because we played undisciplined basketball in regards to their ball movement and in regards to what we needed to do. We did not come out and do that in the second half," head coach Lewis Preston said. "We've got to get back, we've got to look at this, we've got to learn from this, we've got to move forward because we've got another game tomorrow night.
Eastern Kentucky, which led 36-33 at halftime, came out in the second half and immediately took control of the game. The Colonels outscored the Owls 49-38, including 16-8 during the first 12 minutes of the half. EKU built its biggest lead of the game at 85-66 with 2:15 to play.
Kennesaw State was able to hold Cosey to seven points in the first half before from the Columbus State Community College transfer totaled 14 points in second half. Sophomore guard Cory Walden added nine of his 12 points in the final period. The backcourt tandem accounted for six steals and six assists in the game.
"We knew they were going to pressure the ball, they were changing up some of their defensive schemes," Preston said. "Once again, I thought a lot of the turnovers were self-inflicted primarily because we sped up. We didn't take and make the extra pass. We talked about ball reversal and getting the ball inside. Every time we had ball reversal and got the ball inside, we scored and good things happened."
Eastern Kentucky's pressure on the ball hurt Kennesaw State in the first half leading to 13 Owls turnovers and a 36-33 halftime deficit. The Colonels outscored KSU 15-6 in points off turnovers and finished the game with a 19-11 edge in points off turnovers.
For the third straight game, the Owls took a rebounding advantage into halftime as they out-rebounded Eastern Kentucky, 19-10. Cummings and Love led KSU with four rebounds apiece. Kennesaw State finished the contest with a 29-24 advantage on the boards.
Kennesaw State continues tournament play on Saturday (Nov. 17) when it takes on Radford during second day action of the Comfort Suites Invitational. Tip-off is slated for 8 p.m.
Kennesaw State University