Murray State claims defensive contest over visiting Golden Eagles

Photo: Jud Dillard led Tech with 18 points against the Racers

MURRAY, Ky. – In-your-face defense by both teams led to one of the lowest-scoring games in years for the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles, who came up on the short end of a physical, hard-fought 55-44 Ohio Valley Conference contest at Murray State Thursday night.

Murray State held its grip on first place in the OVC, improving to 19-6 overall and 11-3 in league play with its seventh consecutive victory. Tech, which has one road game and two home contests remaining in OVC play, saw its record slip to 13-11 overall and 9-6 within the conference.

Tech plays at UT Martin Saturday evening at 6 p.m., then returns home to Eblen Center for a Monday night game against Tennessee State.

The Racers limited Tech to 32 percent shooting (17-for-53) in the game, including 0-for-7 from outside the arc, and was able to hold the Golden Eagles at arm's length throughout the contest. Murray led by six at halftime and owned a double-figure lead throughout most of the second half.

Sophomore Jud Dillard was the only Golden Eagle to score in double figures, shooting 8-for-13 from the field to finish with 18 points. He also led Tech on the glass with seven rebounds. Alfred Jones scored nine and Zac Swansey added six.

The Tech defense, meanwhile, forced 21 Murray State turnovers and limited the Racers to 43 percent shooting.

Isaiah Canaan topped the Racers with 13 points, while both Jeffery McClain and B.J. Jenkins had 10 points each. Ed Daniel led MSU in rebounds with seven as the home team held a 38-31 edge on the glass.

Tech opened the game going 3-for-19 and Murray State took advantage to pull ahead 20-8 in the first 12 minutes. The Golden Eagles battled back with an 8-1 run and scratched back to within five points, 21-16, before heading to the break trailing by six, 24-18.

Tech came out and cut the MSU lead to two points to start the second half, a layup by Jones at the 17:27 mark making it a 26-24 contest.

Murray State scored the next seven points, with two baskets from McClaim and a 3-pointer by Jenkins, and the lead was nine at 33-24.

Tech was within six points, 40-34, with 9:15 to play after Dillard scored, but the Racers held Tech without a field goal for nearly five minutes and made it a 49-34 MSU lead. Dillard hit Tech's next basket to stop the run and make it 49-36.

The closest the Golden Eagles got after that was within eight, 50-42.