CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It's a little embarrassing to fall behind at halftime, especially at home, to a team that's lost 28 in a row.
In that surprising first half, the Urbana Blue Knights built a seven-point lead and led by two at intermission, all the while dominating the boards in a bid to end the dreadful losing streak.
"We had a slow first half as everybody saw,'' said University of Charleston senior Aleksander Kesic.
The Golden Eagles then redeemed themselves in the second half, shooting 63 percent, rebounding with vigor and avoiding humiliation with an 83-70 victory Thursday night at Eddie King Gym. A crowd of about 350 attended.
The victory helped in retaining the luster of a UC season that has exceeded expectations. The Golden Eagles (16-6, 13-6 Mountain East) were picked to finish sixth in the MEC but won eight straight in January to briefly take second place. They're 3-3 in February.
"Our thing is trying to make the next game better than the last game,'' said first-year UC coach Dwaine Osborne. "I don't think we've hit our peak. We've got some room to grow, but we've grown at a good rate throughout the season, and I'm proud of them for that.''
Down 39-37 at halftime, UC outscored the Blue Knights 15-4 in the second half's opening six minutes for a 52-43 lead, increased the advantage to 65-51 with 10 minutes left and was never threatened. The Golden Eagles' biggest lead was 79-62 in the final minutes.
In addition to its hot second-half shooting, UC outrebounded the Knights 21-6 in the final 20 minutes to offset a sluggish first half in which the Knights held a 24-16 edge on the boards.
"Urbana played hard,'' said Osborne. "I thought they were tougher than us in the first half.''