Story by Kelsey Randolph, Sports Editor
Now No. 1 in the OVC West the Murray State men’s basketball team took a win over the Austin Peay State Governors, 76-60 with a game of ties.
“I’m just really proud of our guys, we battled some foul trouble,” said Head Coach Matt McMahon. “We had Chad out with a shoulder injury so depth was an issue, but I thought our guys handled it well. I thought the defensive effort in the second half was awesome.”
Entering the fight for their No. 1 seed in the West, the Racers faced a large rival in the Governor’s home arena, the Dunn Center.
“We were just playing hard,” said junior guard Bryce Jones. “I felt like the first half we played really tough and made tough plays. We did what it took to win.”
The second half proved to be tough for the Racers when the Governors began with an 8-0 run. The Racers managed to take the lead three times, but not before tying up the half 31-31. Junior guard Damarcus Croaker put 10 points on the board and four defensive rebounds.
Entering the second half the rivalry became known with tension among Racer fans and Governor natives. There were four ties between the two teams and ten lead changes, but senior forward Jeffery Moss was able to push through to score the winning points in the last nine minutes.
“Well, we wanted to do a good job defensively,” McMahon said. “That’s always our focus as well as the timeouts, we wanted to take care of the basketball. I think here for the most part in conference play we can take care of the ball – we usually lead to some pretty good shot opportunities. Our guys stepped up and delivered.”
Leading for the Racers was Moss with 22 points, junior forward Gee McGhee with 4 assists and Croaker with 12 rebounds. Croaker had his first double-double of the season with rebounds and 14 points.
The Racers were 47 percent from inside the paint and 42 percent from the arc. The Racers scored 20 points off turnovers while the Governors made zero.
“I think our guys did a good job in transition defense … that was big emphasis for us,” McMahon said.
The Racers travel to Eastern Illinois Thursday and return home to take on UT Martin at 7 p.m. Saturday for their final conference game.