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ATLANTA, Ga. – With Eastern Kentucky University trailing by two, Cooper Robb hit a shot from beyond halfcourt at the buzzer to beat Georgia State University, 62-61, on Friday at the GSU Convocation Center in Atlanta.
The Colonels (2-2) trailed by 20 with just over a minute to go in the first half and 15 at the break. EKU out-scored the Panthers 34-18 in the second half, after allowing 43 points in the first.
Isaiah Cozart scored six of Eastern Kentucky’s first eight points of the second half and his put-back with 17:04 left in the game got his squad within 11, 47-36. Devontae Blanton’s elbow jumper and 3-pointer with 10:54 to go cut the deficit to single digits, 51-43, for the first time since the 9:11 mark of the first half. Those two baskets also started a 24-10 run to end the game for the Colonels.
Dardan Kapiti’s lay-up got EKU within six, 51-45. Another Kapiti lay-up, this time with 6:15 showing on the clock made it a four-point game. After Georgia State went back in front by six, Michael Moreno began a 7-0 run with a 3-pointer from the left wing. Blanton’s put-back got Eastern Kentucky within one, 55-54, with 3:33 to go. After an offensive rebound, Blanton fed Cozart for a lay-up that completed the comeback and put the Colonels on top 56-55 with 3:07 remaining.
However, it appeared EKU stalled as the Colonels went scoreless for almost three minutes, missing four field goals, two free throws and turning the ball over three times. Ja’Heim Hudson’s turnaround jumper with 1:22 left capped a 6-0 GSU run and put the home team back on top by five, 61-56.
The Panthers (2-2) turned the ball over on each of their next two possessions. Freshman Leland Walker finally snapped the cold spell for the Colonels with a 3-pointer with 8.1 seconds left in the game to get Eastern Kentucky within two. Walker’s shot came after Cozart grabbed an offensive rebound.
EKU sent Dwon Odom to the line for one-and-one with 5.4 seconds on the clock. He missed the first and Robb came down with the rebound. The senior from Georgetown, Kentucky let it fly from just beyond the halfcourt line for the win.
The Colonels’ defense in the second half was stellar. Georgia State shot 57 percent from the field in the first half, made 4-of-10 from deep, hit on all seven free throw attempts and turned the ball over six times. In the second half, the Panthers shot 39 percent from the field, went 0-for-6 from behind the arc, missed on their only trip to the free throw line and turned the ball over 14 times. After getting out-rebounded by eight in the first half, EKU out-rebounded GSU 21-19 in the second half.
Blanton finished with 18 points. Moreno had 10 points, six rebounds and three steals. Cozart contributed 10 points, eight rebounds and three blocks.
Odom had a team-best 16 for Georgia State.
After a long 3-pointer from the right wing by Moreno got Eastern Kentucky within four, 19-15, the Panthers went on a 10-3 run to stretch the margin to double figures. Hudson finished off the run with an old-fashioned three-point player for a 12-point lead, 27-15.
Odom’s jumper stretched the EKU deficit to 15, 37-22. A run of six unanswered allowed Georgia State to build a 20-point advantage, 43-23, with 1:34 left in the first stanza. Hudson’s dunk capped it off.
Eastern Kentucky scored the final five points of the half on a 3-pointer from John Ukomadu and a last-second jumper from Moreno. EKU trailed by 15, 43-28, at the break.
The Colonels continue play at the Capitol Classic on Saturday when they take on UNC Asheville at 5:30 p.m. EKU’s final game is on Sunday against Texas A&M – Commerce at 1 p.m.