Triple trouble

Michael Moreno holds up three fingers after one of his three 3-point shots Tuesday night. Moreno combined with longtime high school and college teammate Cooper Robb for eight long-range bombs in Eastern Kentucky’s 93-63 win over Georgetown.

The team with the undeniable Georgetown flavor won convincingly over the team with Georgetown emblazoned across its chests in an NCAA vs. NAIA men's basketball showdown Tuesday night.

Cooper Robb and Michael Moreno, the tandem that weaved so many tournament triumphs and smashed so many milestones during their days at Scott County High School, combined for 36 points and headlined Eastern Kentucky University's season-opening 93-63 win over Georgetown College at McBrayer Arena.

Robb scored a career-high 21 on 5-for-9 shooting from 3-point range. Moreno, making his comeback from off-season leg surgery, was the first Colonel off the bench and wound up with 15 points and nine rebounds in a team-high 29 minutes.

It's their second season together as key pieces for fellow Scott County native and coach A.W. Hamilton, who leads Eastern Kentucky in making the jump from the Ohio Valley Conference to the ASUN this season.

“He said he wanted to take 30 (3-pointers) before the game, and if we got hot, he wanted to take 50,” Robb said of Hamilton. “It’s just his style. That’s how we play in practice. It makes games fun, and it makes it fun for the fans.”

Derrin Boyd (15 points), Kyran Jones (13) and Drew LaMont (12) showed the way for Georgetown in what was an exhibition tussle for the Tigers but the first counting game for the Colonels.

Eight combined 3-pointers from Robb and Moreno were one more than the team total for GC, which hit seven of 23 tries.

“We were a good shooting team last year. I think we’ve got a great shooting team this year,” Hamilton said. “We’re going to take a lot of threes.”

Robb, voted ASUN preseason defensive player of the year in a fan poll, helped EKU in that category and many other intangibles last season while shooting an uncharacteristically low 33 percent from the field.

His previous high point total was 19 against Xavier.

“It was frustrating last year, but I worked hard over the summer,” Robb said. “It comes along with your teammates trusting you. They kept telling me to shoot. It feels good to feel good. Coach says that all the time. It’s nice.”

The Colonels connected from long range on three consecutive possessions and stretched an early 10-9 advantage to 19-12.

Former Frederick Douglass star DaShawn Jackson ignited another EKU run with his first two collegiate 3-pointers, stretching the lead to 38-18 with 7:28 left in the first half.

EKU gave the crowd of 3,581 — enhanced by a record number of season ticket holders announced earlier in the day — ample reason to cheer while hammering out a 55-29 halftime lead.

“They were all behind us tonight,” Robb said. “We all felt it.”

The Colonels' 66.7 percent clip from the field in the first half cooled only slightly to 56.7 percent overall.

Tariq Balogun joined Robb and Moreno in double digits with 11 points. North Carolina State graduate transfer Braxton Beverly knocked down his first shot as a Colonel and wound up with nine points and seven assists on the evening.

Eastern Kentucky, picked second behind Liberty in the ASUN preseason coaches' poll after finishing as OVC runner-up last winter, hosted Ohio Valley University on Thursday night and is at Milwaukee on Saturday.

Georgetown, which last faced EKU in November 2016 and dropped an 83-71 decision, faces Kent State-Tuscarawas at Thomas More at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Kal Oakes can be reached via email at sports@news-graphic.com.

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