For a few teams, Saturday was a make-or-break day. Two OVC teams saw their (already slim) chances of making a run to Nashville all but end, while another finally got over the hump for a much needed win
Last Night’s Scores
Morehead State 86, Eastern Kentucky 79
Both teams may have single bye’s, but Morehead State took a step to avoiding the No. 1 overall seed until the OVC finals, thanks to a win in Richmond. Angelo Warner scores a career high 33 points on 10-15 shooting from the field, hitting a perfect 10-10 from the charity stripe. Morehead state forced just eight EKU turnovers, but still manages to shoot 58% from the field. The win marks the first time in the young Sean Woods era that the Eagles have beaten their rival Colonels.
Tennessee Tech 72, Jacksonville State 60
If it weren’t for free-throws, this game wouldn’t have even been close. Tennessee Tech holds the Gamecocks to under 30% shooting, 2-16 shooting from behind the arc, but Jacksonville State hits 26-33 at the charity stripe in a 72-60 loss to the Golden Eagles. Dennis Ogbe hits 6-7 from the field for Tech, finishing with a game high 15 points and eight rebounds. Despite the shooting, JSU was as close as 42-40 in the second half, before a 10-0 TTU run opened up the game for good.
Southeast Missouri 74, Eastern Illinois 68
This is one SEMO needed badly. Sherman Blandford scores 20 for the Panthers, but it wasn’t enough to overcome solid free-throw shooting, and one of the Redhawks best overall defensive efforts of the year. EIU shoots just 41% from the floor, and commits 14 turnovers in the loss. Despite being down eight with 3:10 left, EIU goes on a 7-1 run to cut the SEMO lead to just two with 37 seconds. Darrian Gray has a team-high 18 points in the win. Tyler Stone and Jarekious Bradley also scored in double-figures for SEMO.
Austin Peay 68, Belmont 93
After another crazy half of basketball, which saw Belmont ahead 53-44, Bruins head coach Rick Byrd sent his team a message, benching his starters for their defensive effort early in the second half. The message was received, as the Bruins hold Austin Peay to just 24-second half points in a blowout victory. JJ Mann led all scorers with 28 points, and Reese Chamberlain notched a double-double with 13 points and 10 assists. Austin Peay has four players in double figures, but struggled to contain Belmont’s shooters, who combined for 13 three-pointers, and 53% shooting from the field.
Murray State 73, Tennessee State 65
Maybe it was the excitement from the Racers previous two outings, or maybe it was the extremely slow pace. Or maybe it was the game stayed in the 8-12 point lead range for almost it’s entirety. Whatever it was, I struggled to remain interested from courtside in Nashville. Jonathan Fairell scored a career high 17 points, a Murray State held off a late TSU rally. Patrick Miller once again was the bulk of TSU’s offense, scoring 26 points, and making nine of the team’s 23 field goals. The Racers have another dismal night at the charity stripe, hitting just 10-20 for the game.
UT Martin 78, SIUE 84
Both teams shoot better than 50% from the floor, but the Skyhawks have no answer for Donivine Stewart and Kris Davis, who combine for 45 points, and 16-22 shooting in the narrow win in Edwardsville. Stewart also added eight assists in the win. Five Skyhawks score in double figures, led by Mike Liabo‘s 17 off the bench. A major free-throw disparity didn’t help UT Martin, as the Skyhawks shot just 10 free-throws compared to SIUE’s 26, although some of those came late in the game as UTM tried to catch up. The loss drops the Skyhawks to 2-9, severly lessening their chances of making a return trip to Nashville.
If the tournament started today
Since Thursday, EKU and Morehead flip-flop three and four seeds. The 6-7 seeds are currently tied. With the head-to-head win, TTU would be the sixth seed.
Player of the Night: Angelo Warner, Morehead State. His career high 33 points was huge as the Eagles got a much needed win to stay in contention in the East Division.
Player of the Night in a loss: Patrick Miller, TSU. Miller is such a skilled guard, and it’d be amazing to see what he could do with a team around him. But in his current situation, he knows his role is to help this young team get better for next year, and try to see if he can improve his own stock for a pro career overseas.
Unsung Hero: Ladon Carter, Tennesee Tech. The junior forward scored 12 points on 4-6 shooting off the bench for the Golden Eagles, but more importantly pulled down eight rebounds. He’s having a solid season as a sixth man for TTU, but probably isn’t a name many people recognize outside of Cookeville.
Teams Trending Upward: SIUE, TTU, SEMO. SIUE is back in second place, and with holding the tiebreaker over EKU, aren’t that far out of a possible bye in Nashville. Tennessee Tech got a win that could help keep JSU from snatching their spot in the OVC Tournament. The Redhawks aren’t done yet, and with a fairly friendly schedule down the stretch, they’re looking to make some late season noise after a disappointing campaign.
Teams Trending Downward: TSU, UTM. Their seasons are both about done; TSU’s 10th loss all but assures they won’t head to the OVC Tournament, and UTM’s ninth means they really need to win out, and possibly even still get some help.
Top image courtesy Richmond Register twitter (@RichmondRSports)