Isaiah Cozart’s stunning performance, which included a career-high 31 points, led the Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) men’s basketball team to a thrilling 108-106 victory over Southern Utah University (SUU) in double overtime. The win secured the Colonels’ spot in the 2023 Discount Tire College Basketball Invitational (CBI) championship game.
The title game, set for Wednesday at 5 p.m., will see EKU face either Charlotte or Radford, with the showdown airing live on ESPN2.
In the final moments of regulation, Cameron Healy’s 3-pointer put the Thunderbirds in the lead, 85-83. However, Cozart’s dunk tied the game at 85, sending the contest into overtime. This marked the third straight overtime game for the Colonels in the CBI tournament.
In the first overtime, Devontae Blanton’s free throws gave EKU a 98-94 lead, but Southern Utah managed to tie it up at 99-99, pushing the game into double overtime. Cooper Robb’s 3-pointer and Tayshawn Comer’s free throw put the Colonels ahead 105-101, but SUU’s Allen responded with a 3-pointer, making the score 106-104 with less than 10 seconds remaining.
As the clock ticked down, Leland Walker drove to the basket but missed the shot. Cozart grabbed the rebound and was fouled, sending him to the free throw line with only 1.1 seconds left in double overtime. Despite having missed four of his five previous free throw attempts, the junior from Richmond remained composed and sunk both shots to secure the win for EKU.
Cozart’s impressive night saw him shoot 14-of-17 from the field, along with 13 rebounds, marking his third consecutive CBI double-double. Blanton contributed 24 points and four steals, while Comer recorded 15 points, seven rebounds, five assists, and only two turnovers. Walker added 16 points, five rebounds, three assists, and three steals, and Robb scored 14 points after going 4-for-7 from deep.
On the Southern Utah side, Healy led the team with 23 points, including seven 3-pointers. The Thunderbirds shot an impressive 46 percent from long range, going 16-for-35.
Overall, EKU shot 51 percent from the field and 39 percent from behind the arc. The Colonels displayed strong ball control, turning the ball over just nine times while forcing 22 SUU turnovers. This defensive effort led to a 23-12 advantage in points off turnovers. Additionally, EKU capitalized on 15 offensive rebounds, resulting in 22 second-chance points.
With Cozart’s outstanding performance and a well-rounded effort from the team, the EKU Colonels are now headed to the 2023 CBI championship game. The showdown against either Charlotte or Radford promises to be an exciting matchup as the Colonels seek to bring home the title. Fans can catch the action live on ESPN2 this Wednesday at 5 p.m.