The Morehead State men's basketball team connected on 25 of its last 26 free-throw attempts en route to an 85-77 victory over Eastern Illinois on Saturday afternoon (Jan. 4) at Lantz Arena.
The Eagles improve to 11-6 overall, 5-4 on the road and 2-0 in the Ohio Valley Conference with their fifth straight win over EIU. The Panthers slip to 4-10 overall, 3-4 at home and 0-2 in league play.
"Today's game wasn't pretty, but we'll take any road win we can get," Head Coach Sean Woods. "It's certainly an accomplishment to go on the road and win back-to-back conference games. I hope we can carry this momentum forward in league play."
Morehead State entered the contest 11th in the conference and 293rd nationally in free-throw accuracy. The Eagles knocked down just 40 percent (6-of-15) from the charity stripe in the opening half, but drilled 88 percent (28-of-32) in the second period.
Junior Kareem Storey made all 12 of his free-throw attempts en route to 14 points. Junior Angelo Warner hit 9-of-12 from the same spot and scored 13 points, which marked his 16th double-figure performance this year and the 45th of his career.
"Our late free-throw shooting was the difference today," Woods said. "It's hard for the opponent to catch up when you put together a stretch of 25 makes in 26 attempts. I think us making those shots says a lot about our character and resiliency."
Senior Chad Posthumus registered team highs of 19 points and 14 rebounds. It marked his OVC-leading ninth double-double this season and the 11th of his MSU career. The rebounding effort was also his 13th in double figures this year.
"I've been telling Chad to take his time and play under control," Woods said. "There aren't many post players in the OVC who can handle him one-on-one. He had another big game for us, including an NBA-quality spin move and dunk late in the contest."
Sophomore Brent Arrington, who netted 12 points, and junior Luka Pajkovic, who posted 10, also finished in double figures for the Eagles. The Eagles registered a 35-11 advantage in bench scoring. Morehead State manufactured a 10-2 run after falling behind by six with 8:01 remaining. The Eagles, who scored 26 of their final 46 points from the foul line, closed out the afternoon on a 33-19 spurt.
Eastern Illinois raced out to a 15-6 lead at the 14:35 mark of the first half, but the Eagles scored the next 15 points to grab a 21-15 lead. MSU's largest cushion of the half was 24-17 at the 7:51 mark. EIU junior Reggie Smith topped all players with 20 points, while classmate Chris Olivier added 19.
The Eagles recorded a 42-39 rebounding edge and 16-10 upper hand in second-chance points. MSU is now +142 on the campaign has only been outrebounded one time in 17 games.
Morehead State hosts the next three OVC contests at home. The next game is on Saturday, January 11 versus rival Eastern Kentucky. The men's game, which follows a women's contest, will tip-off at approximately 7:30 p.m.
"I want to challenge all Morehead State fans to fill up Johnson Arena on Saturday," Woods added. "Eastern Kentucky is our rival and was picked No. 1 in this year's preseason poll. Our guys are working very hard and now we need our sixth man to step up."