FRANKFORT, Ky. - One turnover with :09 left in regulation might have been all that stood between the Asbury Eagles and a memorable comeback victory. Instead, the Eagles left Frankfort Friday night wondering what might have been after a 71-66 loss to Kentucky State.
Despite shooting just 32% from the field in the first half, the Eagles trailed by only eight at halftime, thanks to Kentucky State's less-than-blistering 35% and two for 10 in three point attempts.
But the Eagles' (2-1) poor shooting continued through the beginning of the second half and the deficit became 15 when State's Muhammed Cross hit a three with 15:54 remaining. State's lead swelled to 20 less than four minutes later when Brandon Darrett drilled a jumper. It looked over.
Trailing by 19 with 11:37 remaining, Eagles head coach Will Shouse, who had searched for the right combination all night, pushed the right button. He brought Tyler Smith, Todd Jefferson, and Kyle Lamb off of his bench. Within about 30 seconds, the comeback was on.
Lamb, who led the Eagles with 16 points, hit a jumper with 9:36 left to cut State's lead to 16. Two Lamb layups, a three pointer, and a Cam Richardson make later, and the deficit was nine. A Richardson three with 3:58 remaining and State's lead had all but evaporated. The Eagles trailed 63-60.
CJ Penny's layup with :34 remaining cut the deficit to one but that was as close as the Eagles would get. Trailing by two with the ball and a chance to tie the game, a Lamb turnover with :09 left all but ended things. A valiant comeback had fallen short.
But when the Eagles left Frankfort for home Friday, they left thinking about a cold start that sent them into the chilly night with their first loss of the season.
The Eagles return to action a week from Saturday as they face off against Virginia Intermont in Berea, Ky.