MOREHEAD, Ky.— Morehead State men’s basketball committed more turnovers in the game, but it was two late giveaways by East Tennessee State that helped the Eagles survive, 60-58, in a non-conference game Friday evening at Johnson Arena.
Looking for a game-tying or game-winning shot, ETSU’s Micah Williams dribbled the ball off his foot and out of bounds with under five seconds to play. The Bucs fouled Kenneth Faried on the in-bounds pass, but Faried missed both free throws. ETSU’s Jocolby Davis turned it over again while dribbling up-court with one second left. The Bucs stole the MSU in-bounds pass in the back court, but could not get a shot off in time.
“Our team showed a lot of grit and effort to hold on,” Morehead State coach Donnie Tyndall said. “The tempo of the game was right, we wanted to be in the mid to low 60s.”
With just over a minute to play, Harper sunk a short jumper to put the Eagles up by three, but Jarvis Jones raced down the floor and hit a 3-pointer to tie it for the first time in the second half. Harper was fouled on the ensuing possession and sunk both free throws that were the eventual game-winners.
The Eagles struggled to find a basket in the first eight minutes of the game, starting with an 0-for-8 streak. ETSU took advantage of the drought, rolling out to a 10-0 lead.
“I thought the first half was the worst exhibition of offense we’ve had since I’ve been coaching here,” Tyndall said. “Our guys are a little reluctant versus the zone. Teams are going to throw a lot of zone at us because it limits Kenneth’s touches.”
The Bucs then went on a five-minute scoreless streak of their own that allowed Morehead State to climb back into the game after senior Les Simmons scored on a lay-up and Terrance Hill hit the first of three 3-pointers en route to a season-high 13 points.
“Terrance Hill was a great lift for us off the bench, hitting three threes,” Tyndall said.
Morehead State opened the second half trailing by one, but scored the first eight points of the period to take a 33-26 lead. The Eagles held the advantage through most of the second half, holding the Bucs one to two possessions behind until Jones’ trey tied it.
Harper had a season-high 17 points to lead the Eagles. Maze Stallworth scored 12 and Faried pulled down 16 of MSU’s 44 rebounds, 15 of which were offensive and led to 12 second-chance points. OVC assist-leader senior Brandon Shingles dished out eight assists for the Eagles.
ETSU was led by Tommy Hubbard and Jones, each of who tallied 14 points. The pair each had a game-high four steals. Bruce Grimm added 12 points for the Buccaneers and Isiah Brown had a team-high six rebounds.
The Eagles will travel to Utah State for the Basketball Travelers Invitational. MSU opens the tournament with host Utah State Monday at 10:05 pm ET. A Tuesday date with Weber State atr 7:30 p.m. ET and a game against Cal State Fullerton Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. ET complete the Morehead State tournament slate.