WILBURTON—Connors State handled Eastern State pressure defense through the 40 minute Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference clash Monday night for an 89-81 victory.
The win improves the Cowboys record to 18-6 on the year and 5-5 in conference play. Eastern drops to 8-14 on the year and 3-7 in conference play.
"The first five minutes of the first half we didn't handle their pressure very well," said Coach Bill Muse.
"We got a big lead and then let it slip away at the half. We stretched it out the opening of the second half then held them off."
Connors will now look toward Seminole State on Thursday night on the Trojans home floor.
Cowboys had five players score in double figures led by Caleb Riggs' 19 points, which included five from behind the arc. Connors finished with nine threes and was 18-of-22 at the line.
"It was good to get five guys in double figures," said Muse.
The Cowboys will get point guard Callen Haydon back in the lineup Thursday when he returns after sitting out the month of January with a foot fracture.
Cowboys held a five-point advantage at the half 40-35, leading by as much as 17 points in the opening 20 minutes 38-21 at the 3:17 mark. It was the largest lead of the game by either team.
Eastern outscored the Cowboys 12-4 the rest of the way for the final half time score.
Eastern cut the margin to just three points 56-53 with 12:37 remaining. That was the closest the Mountaineers would come.
Connors stretched its lead to 14 points 79-65 with 4:45 remaining. Eastern made a late run on the Cowboys, battling to within six points five times in the final three minutes, the last 87-81 with 20 seconds remaining.
CONNORS STATE 89, EASTERN STATE 81
Connors State 40 49—89
Eastern State 35 46-81
Connors State (5-5, 18-6)—Riggs 19, Early 17, J. Graham 14, Francis 12, Cain 10, Kelly 9, Tinsley 8.
Eastern State (3-7, 8-14) –Byrd 25, Adams 21, Lennox 9, springs 6, Richardson 5, ns 4, Arnett 4, Greggs 4, Pratt 3.