Men’s basketball loses first two OVC road games
Story by Kelsey Randolph, Sports Editor
Finishing their first weekend on the road in the OVC, the men’s basketball team (2-3 in the OVC) left with two heartbreaking losses against Belmont 81-73 and Tennessee State 73-71.
The team traveled to Nashville to take on the Bruins, who hold last year’s OVC Championship title. In the 2015 tournament finals, the Racers and Bruins were tied with three seconds left and the Bruins’ Craig Bradshaw, senior guard, banked a fadeaway three and took home the championship title. Returning to once again face the Bruins was a feat for the Racers and their fans.
On Thursday, Jan. 14, the Bruins were true to their No. 1 name, making a 20-0 run and shooting 42 percent from the three-point line. Junior guard Bryce Jones shot a game high of 20 points and senior guard Wayne Langston managed eight rebounds, but also took six personal fouls. During the game, freshman forward Brion Sanchious came down from a layup, injuring his knee and limping out of the game.
Racer Head Coach Matt McMahon said he will have to rely on junior forward, A.J. Patty and other postplayers to help relieve the pressure on the team. He said the team will work on building depth and play a four-guard line up to provide opportunities to the post players to give up front depth.
According to a statement released Tuesday by Murray State Athletics, Sanchious will miss the rest of the season because of a torn ACL in his right knee, McMahon announced after test results from an MRI on Monday.
“I am disappointed for Brion and our team,” McMahon wrote. “However, Brion possesses the character, work ethic and toughness it takes to come back from this injury. I’m extremely excited about his future at Murray State.”
McMahon said Sanchious provided a start at defensive rebounding. He said he thought Sanchious did a good job of keeping pressure on Langston, but now it is time for the post players to come in offensively and help the team in any way possible.
Going into the second road game of the conference, the Racers played in Gentry Center on Saturday, Jan. 16. With ten minutes left in the game, junior guard Damarcus Croaker made a two-point layup that pushed the Racers into a tie. Pushing forward, the Racers made a 3-pointer, a few layups and some freethrows to take the lead. With 23 seconds left in the game, Jones made two free throws, tying the game. The Tigers’ redshirt junior guard, Tahjere McCall jumped for a two. Junior guard Justin Seymour tried to score with three seconds left, but the Racers lost at the Gentry Center for the first time since 2008.
“I thought we had our opportunities to win a good fight,” McMahon said. “We did a good job building our way back in and built our lead. We had opportunities to extend the lead and we were unable to do so.”
“Everyone is disappointed, but it is what it is,” McMahon said. “We didn’t get the job done this weekend but we have to get back to work. We have to be extremely positive and we’ve got to be great teachers. We’ve got to use the film to study and learn and get better from and we’ve got to do a great job on the practice floor to get the team better.”
The Racers return home to host the Eastern Illinois Panthers (3-3 in the OVC and 6-12 overall) at 7 p.m. on Thursday and the Southern Illinois Edwardsville Cougars (1-5 in the OVC and 4-14 overall) at 7 p.m. on Saturday. McMahon said the Panthers have a lot of firepower coming off of a winning weekend and he expects the Racers will have to fight hard.
“We’re excited about the semester starting and students coming back in,” McMahon said. “It’s always tough playing those big games without the student fans. We look forward to getting them back to the bank.”