Story by Kelsey Randolph, Sports Editor
After the Murray State Racers lost in the quarterfinals to the Morehead State Eagles 75-66, it took only moments for fans to clear the Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, Thursday night as the team’s chances as the OVC championship faded away.
“I’m proud of our guys,” said Head Coach Matt McMahon. “I thought they fought their tails off tonight and really competed.”
The Racers finish the season 10-7 in the OVC and 17-15 overall. They have secured their 29th consecutive winning season.
While McMahon said he thought the men boxed out well in the first half, what made the difference in the game was the second half.
“There were times when they didn’t have anybody in the paint getting to the glass, so our box-outs were very good and then they flooded us to the glass and did a good job on offensive put-backs,” he said.
The Racers came out of the gate with a layup by junior guard Bryce Jones. An immediate free throw followed a foul by the Eagles’ junior guard Xavier Moon, who McMahon said the Racers had a hard time stopping.
Moon scored 16 points, 7-for-13 from the floor and 2-for-5 from the 3-point line. The Eagles shot 12 points off turnovers and scored 24 defensive rebounds.
“They hit some big shots,” McMahon said. “Really, they just overwhelmed us on the glass toward the end.”
The Eagles scored 22 of 29 rebounds, and McMahon said Morehead lived on the free throw line.
He said part of Thursday’s trouble was when junior guard Damarcus Croaker fell to the floor, rolling his ankle and leaving him unable to play in the second half.
Morehead was able to score 17 second-chance points, which McMahon said led in part to the Eagles’ lead.
Finishing out the game, the Racers’ Jones and junior guard Gee McGhee collected fouls, which led to the Eagles scoring eight free throws in the last 10 seconds. Senior forwards Wayne Langston and Jeffery Moss watched as the last basket was made, sealing the Eagles’ win. Both Langston and Moss said the loss was heartbreaking, but it didn’t take away from a season they’ll never forget.
“This program meant a lot to me,” Moss said. “Coach Kane took a chance on me and coach [McMahon] came back and I’m thankful for those two.”
Moss said the team faced a lot of adversity throughout the season, but ultimately they powered through, despite being one of the ten smallest lineups in college basketball.
Langston, a transfer, said it’s one of the best teams he’s played with and he’ll never forget it.
“I came in and it was tough for me at first,” Langston said. “I stayed with it and stayed with the process. I competed every day in practice and I got better. When I found out coach [Prohm] was leaving, the first person I texted was coach [McMahon] just hoping he got the job. He did, and I’m really glad he did.”
McMahon said the team represented well through their character and unselfishness. He said offensively, the last game was not what he wanted it to be, but it was a well-fought game.
“That’s basketball,” McMahon said.