Men’s basketball race past Redhawks

Jenny Rohl//The News Junior guard Bryce Jones dibbles past a Skyhawk player at the UT Martin game Saturday.
Jenny Rohl//The News Junior guard Bryce Jones dibbles past a Skyhawk player at the UT Martin game Saturday.

Jenny Rohl//The News
Junior guard Bryce Jones dibbles past a Skyhawk player at the UT Martin game Saturday.

Story by Sarah Combs, contributing writer

Murray State senior forward Jeffery Moss led the Racers with 26 points in their win over the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks Thursday 78-72 at the Show Me Center.

The win Thursday moved the Racers to 6-4 in the OVC and 12-11 for the season. With the win, Murray State is tied for first with Eastern Illinois in the west division.

The Racers won the tip and started the game on a 7-0 run. It took the Redhawks more than three minutes to answer the Racer’s defensive pressure.

Murray State’s last encounter with the Redhawks came in 2015 at SEMO and resulted in a 94-92 win in overtime. Moss knew going into the game that it wasn’t going to be easy for the Racers and said it was vital for the entire team to step up.

“I told the guys we were coming into a tough environment,” Moss said. “From my past experience, we’ve had battles in here. I knew we’d have to fight all 40 minutes. Credit to my teammates, that’s what we did.”

Although Moss was able to lead the team in scoring, junior guard Bryce Jones made plays down the stretch to finish things off for the Racers. Jones finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

The Redhawks struggled to find an answer for Moss after heating up behind the arc and exposing their zone. Delivering his season high of 26 points, Moss said all of his shots were within the flow of the offense and he didn’t have to force anything.

“My teammates just created for me,” Moss said. “They really made my job easy tonight.”

Murray State had an 18-point cushion four minutes into the second half, but a Redhawk rally had them behind only three points at the six minute mark. It was almost deja vu for the Racers after they lost a late lead against UT Martin on Saturday.

Head Coach Matt McMahon said Antonuis Cleveland and Eric McGill hit some tough shots that helped give the Redhawks an opportunity to fight back in the game. “Our guys maintained their composure to some extent,” McMahon said “they were able to finish the game off.”

The Racers played a fast paced game and the momentum shifted back and forth. Murray State switched between zone and man-to-man defensive schemes to keep the Redhawks off balanced but this slowed down the Murray State players as the game wore on.

McMahon said SEMO was able to attack off the dribble and get to the free-throw line but the physical nature of the Redhawks depleted the Racers. SEMO finished 12-of-14 from the free-throw line in the contest but the Racers didn’t see the charity stripe until the 7:30 mark in the second half. Murray State finished 6-of-9 from the line in the win.

The Racers have struggled with fouls this season but held their own against the Redhawks. As of Monday, Murray State senior forward Wayne Langston was in the top 15 in the country in fouls per game. Langston played 39 minutes in the win and didn’t commit a foul. He finished with 12 points and five assists to go along with four rebounds.

Junior forward Gee McGhee and junior guard DaMarcus Croaker also added 10 points in the victory for the Racers.

Murray State takes on Austin Peay State at 7 p.m. Saturday at the CFSB Center. The Governors are currently 3-7 in the OVC and are three games behind the Racers.