KALAMAZOO, Mich. – Junior Kevin Murphy notched 28 of Tech's 66 total points, but the Golden Eagles couldn't get any closer than five after falling behind by a dozen, and lost a 74-66 road game to the Broncos of Western Michigan in the first round of the College Insider Tournament Wednesday night.
A 21-6 run by the Broncos late in the first half put the home team in control with a 10-point lead at halftime and the Golden Eagles spent the entire second half battling from behind. Demetrius Ward had eight points and Stainbrook six in the run that gave WMU an 11-point lead at 35-24 – their largest of the first half – with 50 seconds to play.
"We're really proud of how our guys played," said Tech head coach Mike Sutton. "They put forth a monumental effort in what proved to be something of an ugly game. I think our layoff had an effect, but our guys definitely competed.
"Kevin (Murphy) was outstanding, as he has been for the past few weeks, and Al (Jones) finished his career with a 5-for-5 performance from the floor – fitting, as he leaves Tech with the highest accuracy in school history," Sutton continued.
Tech battled through six lead changes and four ties in the first half, with neither team leading by more than four points through nearly the first 17 minutes of play.
Murphy scored Tech's first nine points of the game to give TTU a 9-7 lead with 15:23 to play, but WMU tied the game, 9-9, with 15:09 on the clock.
Dennis Ogbe hit a layup with 12:13 left in the half to give TTU an 11-10 lead that the Golden Eagles held for nearly six minutes, allowing the Broncos to knot the score just once within that time frame. During those six minutes, the Golden Eagles reached their largest lead of the half on a three by Zach Bailey with 8:38 to play, setting the score at 17-13.
Western Michigan continued their scoring drive in the second half, recording their largest lead of the night with 18:33 left to play. Back and forth efforts allowed the Golden Eagles to chip away at the lead, cutting it to five with 8:19 left in the game on a jumper by Alfred Jones, but they were unable to come any closer than that.
The physicality of the second half wore on both teams, as the two opponents combined for 38 fouls in the second half alone and both teams shot under 60 percent from the charity stripe.
Jones shot a perfect 5-for-5 from the floor on the night, 4-for-4 in the second half alone, finishing the game with 11 points and five rebounds. Murphy had 17 in the first half and added another 11 in the second half to give him 28 on the night, and chipped in with eight rebounds.
The pair were the only two Golden Eagles to score in double-figures, as they accounted for 39 of Tech's 66 points.
Stainbrook notched five more points in the second half to finish with 11 on the night and crashed the boards for 11 rebounds, notching the only double-double performance in the game.
After scoring just three points in the first half, Juwan Howard added 10 in the second to finish with 13 on the night, while Ward led the Broncos with 15 points and handled eight rebounds en route to a 42-30 rebounding effort that favored WMU. Hutcheson and Whitfield also joined their teammates in double figure scoring with 11 apiece.
"Rebounding was an issue and there were a lot of free throws in the game. We had some opportunities, and if we had gotten maybe one more key play down the stretch, I think we could have pulled it out," Sutton added. "But you have to give Western Michigan credit, they had five players in double figures and are a very balanced team.
"This wasn't the conclusion that we hoped for, but it was the end to a great season. It set the tone for what our basketball program has to look forward to next season," he said.