MURR FG: 23-50 (46.0%)
|EKU 3PT: 6-20 (30.0%)|
MURR 3PT: 9-28 (32.1%)
|EKU FT: 16-21 (76.2%)
MURR FT: 28-34 (82.4%)
|EKU OPPP: 1.163||MURR OPPP: 1.167|
|Points:||Corey Walden (24)|
Glenn Cosey (17)
Orlando Williams (13)
|Cameron Payne (24)
Jeffrey Moss (18)
Jarvis Williams (13)
|Rebounds:||Eric Stutz (5)||Jarvis Williams (9)|
|Assists:||Three tied with 4||Three tied with 3|
Entering tonight, only one men’s team with a bye or double-bye had been beaten by a team that played the night before in the current tournament format. That team to lose? Murray State, in 2011.
After tonight, the Racers are still the only team to lose from that position. Only, now it’s happened twice.
OVC freshman of the year Cameron Payne missed a 24-footer at the buzzer, allowing Eastern Kentucky to escape with a 86-83 win. Just six days ago, Payne missed two free-throws that would like likely sealed a share of the Ohio Valley Conference regular season title.
“That’s the only thing I thought about when he shot it,” Murray State head coach Steve Prohm said. “I needed to go shake coach Neubauer’s hand, but I felt bad for him because it’s been a tough week. But sometimes, you have to go though some things to get special things, and hopefully that’s the process for him, because he’s a special player.”
Eastern Kentucky put on an offensive clinic in the first half, shooting better than 65% from the field in building up a nine-point halftime lead. The Colonels led by as much as 12 with 13:05 to play, before foul trouble allowed Murray State to make a slow climb back into the game.
“Every team in the country has been dealing with the new rules this year,” Eastern Kentucky head coach Jeff Neubauer said. “There’s been more foul trouble. We’ve never had foul trouble to this extent.”
With 1:33 left in the game, T.J. Sapp hit a three, tying the game at 79, taking the lead away from Eastern Kentucky for the first time since the 15:42 mark of the first half. But on the ensuing possession, Corey Walden drove the baseline, getting fouled while hitting a layup, putting Eastern Kentucky up three.
On Murray State’s next possession, Sapp missed a three for the tie, but Jonathan Fairell pulled down the offense rebound. On a pass to the outside to reset the offense, Walden got a few fingers on it, and was able to steal the ball and run out a layup on the fastbreak, putting the Colonels up five with just 56 seconds remaining.
Murray State quickly pushed up the ball and made a quick bucket to pull back within three.
After a timeout, the Racers set up their full-court press, forcing a steal with :33 to play. T.J. Sapp brought the basketball up, and immediately took a three from the wing, which missed wildly, turning the ball back over to Eastern Kentucky. While setting up the press, Sapp committed his fifth foul sending Glenn Cosey, an 83% free-throw shooter to the line.
Cosey made one of two, giving EKU a four-point lead with 27 seconds remaining.
Payne, who finished with a game-high 24 points, would hit a jumper from the baseline with 20 seconds remaining to cut the lead back to two. Again, the Racers would set up the press, and again get a quick foul sending Cosey to the line. Cosey, with a chance to potentially ice the game, missed the second free-throw.
On the final possession, Jeffrey Moss missed a three from the wing. With three seconds remaining, Fairell pulled down an offensive board, and found Payne on the offensive wing.
The shot missed off the left rim.
“That’s not what lost us the game,” Prohm said.
Eastern Kentucky advances to play Belmont in tomorrow’s championship game, a team they split the season series with.
“We definitely have to play good defense,” Walden said.
“We want to play with the lead, and make other people want to catch us,” Neubauer said. “So getting the lead tomorrow will be very important