Murray State holds off Morehead State 87-81

MURRAY, Ky. – A furious second-half effort by the Morehead State men's basketball team came up just short at Murray State Thursday night in a nationally-televised game on ESPNU. The Eagles outscored the Racers 55-51 in the second half but fell 87-81 at the CFSB Center.

Morehead State now sits at 6-14 overall and 2-7 in the OVC. The Eagles trailed by as many 14 in the first 20 minutes, but came back to take a lead late in the game before falling.

"I am so proud of these guys tonight," said head coach Preston Spadlin. " We were down by 10 at the half and weren't scoring the ball very well, and I was very proud of our effort and execution in the second half. We played much better defense, even though we gave up 54 percent shooting, and it was encouraging. Some guys who really didn't play well or had foul trouble in the first half played very good minutes in the second half."

A three-pointer by junior guard A. J. Hicks gave the Eagles their only lead, 68-67, with 6:25 left in the contest. A subsequent triple by Murray's Terrell Miller, pushed the Racers back ahead for good. Morehead State pulled back to within two twice in the final three minutes but could not get the backbreaking bucket to drop. Murray State guard Jonathan Stark drilled six free tosses in the final minute.

Hicks finished with 19 points, two shy of his career-high he set at Southeast Missouri. Sophomore forward Londell King totaled 18 points and six rebounds off the bench. The Eagles hit 20 of their 23 free throws.

Junior forward Lamontray Harris also reached double-figures with 14.

The Eagles held the Racers to just 7-of-22 from the three-point line and shot 53 percent overall (17-of-32) just in the second half. The Eagles also only turned the ball over nine times and turned 14 Racer mistakes into a 23-6 advantage in points off turnovers.

Murray State connected on its first four shots, all in the paint, in jumping ahead 8-0 early. The Eagles scored the next four, but the hosts eventually built as much as a 14-point first-half lead at 29-15 with 4:29 left. Murray went on to lead 33-18, but once again a Morehead State run kept the game within striking distance.

Hicks' triple at the 1:06 mark was the back end of an 8-0 run near the end of the half.

Stark led Murray State with 23 points, but Morehead State held him to 1-for-8 from three-point range.

The Eagles continue their road trip Saturday at Austin Peay at 8 p.m. ET.

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