OVC Tourney Road Ends for Morehead, EKU

MOREHEAD, Ky. - The Morehead State men's basketball team posted a late run but fell short to Tennessee State 68-61 in the first round of the Ohio Valley Conference tournament Tuesday at Johnson Arena. Senior Jamyron Steward led the Eagles with 18 points, and fellow senior Nikola Stojakovic totaled 11 assists in their final appearances as Eagle athletes.

"Those two guys (Steward and Stojakovic) have been special young men for the past two years," said MSU coach Donnie Tyndall. "I'll miss those guys. They gave everything they had every day for two years. It's going to be very difficult to replace these two young men."

Morehead State finished the season with a 15-15 record and finished in third place in the OVC. The Tigers improved to 14-16 and move on to the OVC Tournament semifinals at Nashville's Municipal Auditorium Friday.

Steward led the Eagles from behind the arc, hitting four of seven three-pointers against TSU, including a three-ball with 11:51 left in the game to pull the Eagles within two, 47-45.

"Every time we got it within one, two or three, (Jerrell) Houston made tough shot after tough shot," said MSU head coach Donnie Tyndall. "I thought our effort level was fine and our energy level was fine, we just turned it over too much."

MSU started a late run with 8:17 left in the game when sophomore Maze Stallworth nailed a layup to cut the TSU lead to 54-47. Stallworth then cut the deficit to three at the 7:38 mark when he hit two free throws.

The Eagles committed 19 turnovers to the Tigers 16. TSU capitalized on the Eagle turnovers, scoring 22 points off turnovers. Bruce Price led the way for the Tigers with 22 points. Houston scored 16 and was 7-for-10 from the floor. Gerald Robinson posted 13 points, and LaDarious Weaver netted 11.

The Eagles also got double figure scoring games from freshman Kenneth Faried (14), junior Leon Buchanan (12) and Stallworth (10). Buchanan pulled down eight rebounds, and Faried had seven. The Eagles held a 27-24 lead on the glass.

"We have a good group of guys, they're hard workers and character young men," said Tyndall. "We've said it before, it's a building process and we certainly didn't want it to end tonight, but we're just in year two. It takes four or five years to really get your program in place."

The Tigers took a 4-2 lead at the 17:27 mark of the first half on a Price layup and never relinquished the lead. MSU crawled back to within one twice in the final half, but the Eagles could not find a way to take a lead.

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Five Austin Peay players finished in double figures as the Governors defeated the Eastern Kentucky University men’s basketball team Tuesday night in the 2008 OVC tournament quarterfinals, 76-51. Austin Peay (22-10), the OVC regular season champion, advances to the tournament semifinals for the 11th time in the last 14 years.

Sophomore Adam Leonard was the lone EKU (14-16) player to post double figures with 17 points. Junior Mike Rose, the team’s leading scorer, was held to a season-low four points and did not score in the second half. Junior Ryan Wiersma came off the bench to haul in a team-high six boards.

Austin Peay took control of the game early thanks to a 25-2 run to open up a commanding 29-10 lead. The Govs hit five three-pointers during that stretch while the Colonels went 1-for-9 (11.1 percent) from the field.

Eastern Kentucky slowly rallied and would cut the deficit to single digits, 43-34, thanks to a Leonard jumper with 14:16 remaining. The Colonels had two shots to close the gap even more, but missed a pair of jumpers. A few minutes later, Austin Peay put the game away for good with a 16-2 spurt.

Ernest Fields came off the bench to pace APSU with 15 points and eight rebounds. Derek Wright and Kyle Duncan each finished with 13 points. The Govs shot 50 percent (10-of-20) from behind the arc on the evening and outrebounded Eastern Kentucky, 43-26.

NOTES: No. 8 seeds are now 0-12 against No. 1 seeds in the OVC tournament since the bracket expanded to eight teams in 1997 … senior Darnell Dialls did not play the final 13 minutes of the game due to an injury to his right eye … the Colonels are 0-4 in OVC tournament road games since 1997 … EKU is 1-14 in Clarksville over the last 13 years.