Story by Blake Sandlin, Staff writer
The Battle of the Border continued Saturday night as the Murray State men’s basketball team traveled to Clarksville, Tennessee, for a rivalry game against the Governors of Austin Peay State.
In a game that went down to the wire, the border rivalry lived up to its hype, with the final decision made in overtime as the Governors clenched an 84-81 win over the Racers, snapping their three-game win streak.
Although Murray State came out firing on an 11-2 run to start the game, Austin Peay narrowed the lead to only four points by halftime. The Governors eventually gained the lead after putting together a strong second half run, up 68-60 with 1:10 remaining in the game. Junior guard Jonathan Stark then took the game into his own hands down the stretch, scoring the next eight points for his team, including a game-saving layup in the last two seconds to force overtime.
The Governors retook momentum in overtime, securing an early lead they kept for the remainder of the extra period.
Murray State made a push to stay alive late in overtime, but it was too little, too late, as Austin Peay went on to win, ending the Racers three-game win streak.
Stark led the Racers with 27 points, adding 8 assists along the way. Junior forward Terrell Miller built on his last performance, scoring 16 points with 12 rebounds to record his second consecutive double-double.
Miller struggled with foul trouble early and Head Coach Matt McMahon explained the importance of keeping him out of foul trouble because of the effect he has for his team while on the court.
“We really need him on the floor because he’s able to work that high post and mid post areas,” McMahon said. “It puts another great passer and scoring threat on the floor, and he’s really effective in those areas.”
Junior guard Josh Robinson and senior guard John Murray came up big for Austin Peay, scoring 22 points each to lead their team. Sophomore guard Jared Savage scored 14 points with 10 rebounds, and senior forward Kenny Jones added 11 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to help secure the victory.
McMahon said the team’s 16 turnovers and failure to keep Austin Peay off the glass was crucial in the loss.
“We just weren’t able to take care of the ball well enough and we weren’t able to keep them from second opportunities,” McMahon said.
The Governor’s two wins on Saturday against the women’s and men’s teams boosted their Battle of the Border series score, although they’re still trailing. The Racers are currently leading 16.5 to 7.5, with 3 points being awarded for each win by the teams. As of now, Murray State has claimed wins in football, volleyball, soccer and cross country to give them an edge over Austin Peay.
The Racers will return to Murray for a three-game homestand that will start by welcoming Southeast Missouri State. As the team prepares for their next game, McMahon provided a brief scouting report for Thursday’s match against the Redhawks.
“They’re a very dangerous team,” McMahon said. “They’ve gone to strictly a four-guard lineup. They’re really spreading the floor out and they shoot the ball very dangerously from three.”
The game tips off at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 26 at the CFSB Center.