Story by Bryan Edwards, Staff writer
After pulling out a double overtime victory in their first round matchup, the Racers faced off against the No. 3 Eagles of Morehead State.
Junior guard Jonathan Stark scored a game-high 37 points in the 75-69 victory over Morehead State, following his career-high 41-point performance against Tennessee Tech.
Head Coach Matt McMahon said he was proud of the team in their hard fought win.
“I thought the adjustments we made on defense in the second half gave us an opportunity to win after struggling to guard them in the first half,” McMahon said. “I thought we showed a lot of composure and really executed well when we went down by 10. We made the plays and executed in the final minutes to win the game.”
The Racers went more than seven minutes early in the first half without a field goal, allowing the Eagles to jump out to a 15-3 lead with an 11-0 run.
Junior guard Jonathan Stark and senior guard Bryce Jones helped the Racers battle back and get the Eagle lead to within three points.
Stark lead all scorers with 18 points in the first half. Stark has scored 59 points in 70 minutes of tournament basketball.
The Eagles had two players in double figures for the first half. Senior guard Xavier Moon, who had 12 points and senior forward Treshaad Williams with 10.
Morehead State shot 59 percent in the first half, with the Racers shooting 34 percent.
The Racers opened the second half on a 9-0 run to take their very first lead of the game at 46-44. Junior forward Terrell Miller made his first 3-pointer of the tournament after missing his first eight in the tournament to give the Racers their first lead of the game at 46-44.
Miller said his teammates told him to keep shooting the ball.
“My team has been telling me to stay patient and they would fall,” Miller said. “I just told Bryce (Jones) that I needed to see one fall.”
Following a 17-5 run from the Eagles, the Racers sparked a 24-8 run in the final six minutes to secure another night in Nashville, Tennessee, and another meeting with UT Martin in the semifinals.
Down the stretch, freshman forward Jalen Dupree blocked a Morehead State player at the rim to fuel the team on their run down the stretch.
McMahon said the block was huge.
“He made a great rotation and met the guy at the rim and made a huge, huge play,” McMahon said.
The Racers have played 90 minutes in 48 hours and will have to play 80 more to secure an OVC Title. Miller was asked post-game if the team was tired after two games.
“No,” Miller said.
Stark shot 7-of-13 from behind the three-point line in the contest, giving him 106 on the season, which is now a Murray State record for most three-point baskets in a season. The previous record holder was De’Teri Mayes with 103.
Tip-off for the Racers and the Skyhawks will be at 9 p.m. on Friday, March 3 in the Municipal Auditorium.