Murray State shoots the lights out in Nashville, but still needs a second half surge to get past Eastern Kentucky and return to the OVC Championship game.
|Eastern Kentucky||Murray State|
|FG (%)||22-56 (39.3%)||29-50 (58.0%)|
|3FG (%)||9-27 (33.3%)||7-19 (36.8%)|
|FT (%)||20-24 (83.3%)||16-22 (72.7%)|
|REB (O/D)||28 (12/16)||31 (7/24)|
|POINTS:||Eric Stutz - 18||Isaiah Canaan - 29|
|REBOUNDS:||Glenn Cosey, Corey Walden - 7||Three Tied With 6|
|ASSISTS:||Mike DiNunno - 6||Isaiah Canaan - 6|
Provided by Murray State Athletics
The Murray State Racers earned a spot in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament championship game with an 81-73 win over Eastern Kentucky in the semifinals at Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn., on Friday night.
MSU moved their mark this season to 21-9 as they met EKU (24-9) in the OVC Tournament for the first time since 1995.
The Racers meet the Belmont Bruins in the OVC Tournament title tilt Saturday at 6 p.m. CT with the winner getting the OVC’s spot in the NCAA Tournament.
Isaiah Canaan led the way for MSU with game-high 29 points on 10-of-19 shooting, and added six assists as he also zoomed past the 2,000 points mark for his career. Stacy Wilson added 17 points and Brandon Garrett had a gritty 11 points, on 5-of-7 shooting and six rebounds.
Trailing 51-50 with 14:08 remaining, the Racers locked down the Colonels and scored the knockout blow, scoring 11 straight points and going on a 16-2 run over the next 5:41.
Latreze Mushatt made a steal that led to an easy hoop for Garrett and Mushatt followed with a driving slam for a 57-51 lead that ignited the pro-Racer crowd.
Wilson scored on a fast break and Canaan added a corner three and MSU led by 11 with 8:48 left when Garrett made a pair of free throws with 8:15 to go, the Racers had their largest lead of the day at 66-53.
The Colonels made a run and got as close as 69-65 with 3:37 left, but the Racers opened it back up with a 7-0 run and advanced to the OVC final.
The early part of the game saw the two teams trade hoops before MSU went in front on a pull-up jumper by Canaan for a 15-14 lead at the 14:04 mark. MSU led 26-19 on a post-up score by Garrett at 8:20, but EKU answered with a 10-3 run to take the lead back 27-26 at 6:06. Canaan hit his first three of the game for a two-point lead with 2:57 left. MSU’s final basket of the half came at 1:42 when Dexter Fields drove the baseline, but EKU closed the half scoring with four seconds left to make it a 38-38 game at the break. The first half featured 12 lead changes.
With his first basket at the 16:20 mark of the first half on a strip and score, Canaan became the sixth member of the MSU 2,000-Point Club and the 17th to do it in the OVC.
What’s Being Said
Very, very true tweet.
I don’t think sip is ready to call his career at Murray state quits, dude came to play some ball
— Courtney Starks (@CourtneyStarks1) March 9, 2013
You can say what you want about Stacy’s shot selection in past games. Tonight? 6-10. One of his most efficient performances of the year.
— Kenneth Blankenship (@kenblankenship) March 9, 2013
Since EKU is the only team that can beat Belmont in the OVC Tourney, I hope Neubauer gave Prohm some tips on the way out the door. #TooSoon?
— Jeff Bidwell (@AKAJeffBidwell) March 9, 2013
When Murray State flips the switch, they’re just such a different team. This was one of the Racers most complete games of the season, hand down. The thing that makes it even more impressive is that the Racers scored 81 points despite Ed Daniel playing just 14 minutes due to foul trouble.
Defensively, the Racers were stronger than we’ve seen them in some time. They only forced six EKU turnovers, but were able to mostly shut down the Colonels from three point range, a strength of Eastern Kentucky all season.
EKU really seems out of sorts for much of the game. The bench was quiet, even when EKU made a run towards the end of the first half, and even their usually-hyped senior Mike DiNunno didn’t seem to play with the same bravado as we’ve seen in the past. They looked little like the Eastern Kentucky squad that stopped the red-hot Redhawks just a day before.
Murray State put it all out on the floor for the semifinals, now the question is there enough in the tank for one more night to head back to the NCAA Tournament?