On a night when Eastern Illinois retired former standout Henry Domercant’s No. 44 jersey and honored its two NCAA Division I Tournament teams, it was the current group of Panthers that stole the spotlight as EIU beat Murray State, 79-70.
EIU improved to 8-19 overall, 5-9 in the OVC. The Panthers will host Belmont on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. MSU fell to 18-7, 9-4 in the OVC.
Murray State jumped out to a 4-0 lead with baskets by Brandon Garrett and Isaiah Canaan as both teams struggled from the field in the first six minutes. EIU took a 7-5 lead on a three point play by Alex Austin with 13:29 to play.
The Panthers would hold the lead most of the first half stretching it to five points on back-to-back 3-pointers by Austin and Malcolm Herron. MSU would take the lead 22-20 at 4:48 of the first half on a 3-pointer by Jeffery Moss. MSU would shoot 39 3-pointers on the night hitting 15 of them for 39 percent. They shot only 42 percent for the game.
Morris Woods tied the game for EIU on a jumper at 4:17 and EIU closed the half on a 9-4 run to lead 31-26. Austin scored the final bucket of the half for EIU scoring all ten of his points in the first half.
EIU opened the second half with a 9-3 run as they led by 11 points on a tip-in by Sherman Blanford. The junior posted his fourth double-double of the season finishing with 15 points and 14 rebounds. Blanford also led the Panthers with five assists.
EIU kept the score at a two possession lead most of the second half holding off one final Racers run. Woods hit a pair of free throws with 4:38 left to put EIU up 65-57. MSU answered with a 7-1 run to cut the lead to two points on a dunk by Ed Daniel as EIU led 66-64 with 2:26 left.
EIU would close the game out at the line making 11 of 16 free throws in the final 1:22 of the game. Blanford made three of four on the same possession as he missed the second free throw during his first trip to the stripe, collected his own rebound and then sank two more shots.
Woods led all players with 21 points for EIU as they shot 56 percent from the game and 58 percent from 3-point range (7-of-12). Josh Piper added 15.
Stacy Wilson led MSU with 20 points hitting 6-of-12 from 3-point range. Dexter Fields had 14. Canaan was held to 12 points making only 2-of-12 3-pointers. Moss rounded out the MSU double figure scorers with 11.
Recap Provided By Eastern Illinois Athletics