While sitting under a banner that reads “Expect Championships,” Murray State head coach Steve Prohm faced the media after his first ever regular season victory as the head coach of the Racers.
“In one word, describe how you feel?”
Prohm’s expression gave his answer away.
In a game that was often sloppy, a new Racers head coach continued a 22 year tradition of winning home openers, with a 79-46 win over a scrappy Harris Stowe team.
The Racers were lead by 18 points from Donte Poole, and 16 from Ivan Aska, who shot a efficient 8 of 11 from the field. Murray was helped off the bench by Stacy Wilson, who added 11 points in just 13 minutes of play.
But it wasn’t easy for the Racers, as Harris Stowe’s defense held the Racers to just 12 points in the first 11 minutes of the game.
“We knew coming in they were a real fast and smaller team that was real scrappy and just played real hard,” Poole said after the game. “And they rebounded the ball well.”
So well in fact, they out rebounded the Racers 19-16 in the first half.
Despite their early offensive troubles, the Racers had built up a 33-20 lead with just 2:21 remaining in the first half, before seeing the Hornets score 6 unanswered points to pull within 7 going into the locker room at half time.
“These games are tough,” Prohm said. “Everybody thinks because you’re playing an NAIA, division two team or whatever, that you’re just going to come in and be up 20 or 30 points. It doesn’t work that way. Harris-Stowe is very well coached team. They spread the floor and gave us problems.”
But the second half proved to be a much different story for the Racers. After trading baskets to start the half, the Racers went on a 9-0 run over just a minute and a half, pulling away to a 19 point lead with 16:45 remaining.
Even the rebounding turned around for the Racers, out rebounding the Hornets 27 to 8 in the second half. The Racers were led on the boards with 9 from Ivan Aska.
While preseason all-OVC selection Isaiah Canaan didn’t make a huge splash with his 10 points, he dished out 8 of the team’s 19 assists.
The defense continued to be solid for the Racers, who forced 17 Harris Stowe turnovers. No Hornets starters scored in double digits, although Darrion Lucius has a game high 17 points off the bench.
The challenge gets much steeper for the Racers, who travel to take on Morgan State Monday night.