Morehead falls despite career night from Cooper and Hicks

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. -- Career-high point totals from junior guard A.J. Hicks and freshman guard De'Von Cooper helped Morehead State men's basketball nearly vanquish a 14-point deficit Thursday at Southeast Missouri, but the Redhawks held off a late charge by the Eagles to win 78-75 at the Show Me Center.

MSU slid to 4-12 overall and 0-5 in the OVC. The five setbacks have been only by a combined 26 points. It marked only the second win in the last 16 meetings for SEMO over MSU.

Hicks poured in a team-high 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting to go along with a team-best five assists. Cooper sank a career-high five three-pointers accounting for his career-best effort.

Junior forward Lamontray Harris also kept up his stellar play since OVC action started as he posted a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds.

"Great games by A.J., Lamontray and De'von," said head coach Preston Spradlin. "They stepped up and helped lead us back into the game. But we dug ourselves into another early hole (MSU trailed by 14 at its worst deficit). We played hard to get back into the game. They (SEMO) went to a 1-3-1 defense, and we had five of our turnovers during that time. But I thought for once we were playing with a purpose tonight and we were mentally playing well for the most part."

Trailing 32-18 with 4:44 left in the first half, the Eagles ignited a 10-0 run to climb to within 32-28. MSU eventually tailed 37-28 at the half. Morehead State found itself behind again by 10 (46-36) with 15 minutes left, but a furious effort led to a 12-0 run, and the Eagles took one of their two leads (MSU only led for 1:52) at 48-46.

SEMO appeared ready to put the game away with 42 seconds left, leading 74-67, but freshman forward Malek Green dumped in five quick points, and Cooper knocked down his final triple at the 13-second mark to make it 77-75. The hosts drilled one more free throw. Harris and sophomore guard Jordan Walker had nice looks at three-pointers in the final five seconds but both were off the mark.

Denzel Mahoney paced five SEMO players in double figures with a game-best 22. The Redhawks shot 51 percent, while the Eagles connected on 48 percent. Morehead State also out-rebounded the host squad, 36-30

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