Despite amassing a 20-point, second-half lead, it took two overtimes and 106 points for the Racers to snap a two-game road losing streak and lock up the Western Division championship Wednesday night at Morehead State.
Murray State faced adversity early, as both Ed Daniel and Brandon Garrett picked up two fouls in the game’s first five minutes. Relying heavily on senior Latreze Mushatt and freshman Zay Henderson to fill in for Daniel and Garrett, the Racers shot 48 percent from the field and capitalized on 11 Morehead State turnovers to take a 37-30 lead into the locker room.
The first 10 minutes of the second half belonged to the Racers, thanks to 3-point baskets from Dexter Fields and Isaiah Canaan. This, and numerous Morehead State turnovers, paved the way to an impressive 20-point Racer lead with 10:32 to play.
The Eagles refused to go down quietly, however, scoring 23 of the game’s next 30 points. By the time sophomore guard Angelo Warner sank a deep 3-pointer with 4:27 to go, the Racers’ lead had been sliced to four.
Daniel did his best to stave off the Eagles’ onslaught, scoring four points in the final 3:05. With the game tied at 79, Daniel appeared to win the game for the Racers when he tipped in a missed Canaan 3 as the clock expired. The referees erased the basket, however, after video replay showed Daniel did not get the shot off before the clock ran out. The teams headed to overtime.
Riding the momentum from their late second-half run, the Eagles took control of the overtime period, storming out on a 7-0 run. as they trailed 86-79 with 2:44 remaining. Canaan and Daniel responded yet again. Five unanswered points from Canaan pulled the Racers back to within one–just over a minute to go. A Morehead State free throw left the Racers trailing 87-85 with 20 seconds remaining.
Canaan drove into the lane and released a jumper with four seconds to go. Daniel was again waiting for the miss.
This time, the tip-in was good.
Daniel’s putback tied the game at 87, sending the teams to a second overtime period. Canaan took over the second overtime, scoring 12 points in the five minute period. A 10-1 Murray State run to start the period proved to be enough. After the final buzzer, the Racers took the game, 106-100.
Canaan was the hero for the Racers, scoring 35 points – just one point shy of his career high. Daniel was also crucial in the victory, playing nearly 15 minutes with four fouls. He would finish the night with 18 points and nine rebounds. Several bench players also helped the Murray State cause, chipping in 18 points, 12 of which came from freshmen players.
It was the first time the Racers scored 100 points or more against a Division-1 opponent since December of 2003, when Murray State defeated Chicago State 100-80 at the CFSB Center. The points came easily for the Racers, as the team shot an impressive 50 percent from the field and sank a season-high 32 free throws.
The victory moves Murray State to 19-7 on the season and 10-4 in the conference, clinching the Western Division. The Racers are now guaranteed a bye for the first two rounds of the OVC Tournament in Nashville in two weeks.
The Racers will look to carry momentum from Wednesday night’s victory into the final three home games of the season before the semi-final matchup of the conference tournament Friday, March 8.
Story by Jonathan Ferris, Staff writer.