Just minutes after a close 79 – 72 home victory over the Old Dominion University Monarchs (1 – 5), Head Coach Steve Prohm and the Murray State Racers (4 – 1) took a deep, collective sigh of relief.
“Any time you can get a win, especially against an opponent like Old Dominion, we’ll take it,” Prohm said. “It wasn’t the prettiest of games by any stretch. We’ve got to get better on the defensive end. I know this team can score, but we’ve got to sell out and continue to get better in transition and defending the basketball on the perimeter and then boxing out and rebounding.”
Junior guard Donte Hill led the Monarchs with 16 points and eight rebounds, while senior center DeShawn Painter had 13 points and 11 rebounds in a tightly contested battle up until the final buzzer.
Senior guard Isaiah Canaan scored a season high 30 points for the game, hitting 10 – 18 (55.5 percent) from the field and 6 – 11 (54.5 percent) from behind the arc, twice drilling from downtown to tie the game in the second half.
The Racers needed every one of them to keep it a game.
After the Racers took a 12-point lead halfway through the first half, Old Dominion started chipping away on each possession, and by the middle of the second half the Monarchs took their first lead as the Racers couldn’t run away from Old Dominion.
It wasn’t until a big play from senior power forward Ed Daniel, however, before Prohm said he knew he could get comfortable and soak in the win.
“We were up three, and Ed ran and hit the little action out of the timeout, a little eight-foot turnaround,” Prohm said. “Ed hit some big shots tonight…the short corner jump shot, the one mid-post jump shot that put us up by three and then we finally got a stop.”
Long known for their physical play and ability to crash the boards, the Monarchs used strong play on the glass and sizzling second half shooting off the bench (38 points) to keep pace with Canaan and company.
Despite corralling half of the team’s rebounds with 15, Daniel and the Racers lost the rebounding battle 41-30, including relinquishing a staggering 17 offensive rebounds to the Monarchs who were able to convert the second chances into much needed points.
In posting his third straight double-double, Daniel became the first Racer since James Singleton in 2003 to accomplish the feat.
Senior power forward Brandon Garrett turned in another solid performance with 13 points and four rebounds on perfect 6 – 6 shooting, while junior guard Dexter Fields finished 3 – 5 behind the arc and led the Racers with five assists.
Next up for the Racers are the Lipscomb Bisons (2-2) at 6:30 p.m. on Monday at Allen Arena in Nashville, Tenn.
Story by Edward Marlowe, staff writer.