Golden Eagles edged by No. 12 Murray State, 69-64

Golden Eagles edged by No. 12 Murray State, 69-64

Golden Eagles will play Thursday at 6 p.m. in OVC Tourney
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COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- No. 12 Murray State took advantage of a huge discrepancy at the free throw line, outscoring Tennessee Tech 18-4 at the charity stripe on the way to a narrow, 69-64 Ohio Valley Conference victory in front of 9,021 fans in Eblen Center Saturday night.

The Racers (28-1/15-1 OVC) scored just one basket in the final 5:39 but went 8-for-10 at the free throw line to hold off a determined Golden Eagle squad. Tech (18-11/9-7 OVC) outscored MSU, 60-51, from the field.

Kevin Murphy was the standout player in the contest with 26 points and three assists, one of three Tech players to reach double digits in scoring. Jud Dillard added 12 points and nine rebounds while Zac Swansey chipped in with 11 points and six assists. Senior Zach Bailey had none points and five rebounds in the loss.

Isaiah Canaan was the lone Racer to score in double figures, netting 18 points while dishing out a team-high four assists. Three MSU players, Ed Daniel Jewaun Long and Ivan Aska, each scored nine in the contest.

Tech got to the free throw line just 10 times in the contest. Murray State took 26 shots, going 18-for-26.  The score was tied eight times and the lead changed hands 10 times.

Neither team could establish any kind of edge in the hotly battled contest. Each team held a six-point lead in the opening 20 minutes, but that was the widest margin in the first half.

Murray led 9-3 early on while Tech used a 16-7 run to surge ahead, 34-28, with 1:34 to play before the intermission.  After a basket by Ed Daniel made it a 21-16 MSU lead, Murphy scored 11 of Tech’s 16 points including three consecutive 3-pointers.

Tech led at halftime, 34-30 after Canaan tipped in his own miss at the buzzer.

The Golden Eagles stormed out to a 10-point lead in the opening minutes if the second half on a layup by Inameti, another 3-pointer by Murphy and a layup by Jud Dillard.

But the Golden Eagles good fortunes couldn’t last as Murray bounced back on a 22-7 stretch with seven different Racers chipping in on the scoring. When the run ended, Murray State was up by five, 53-48, with 11:07 to play.

The contest was tied three times after that, the last coming with 4:53 to go when Canaan’s first free throw made it a 60-60 contest. He broke the tie with another freebie and MSU held the edge until the final buzzer.

Murray got up by five before Tech fought back with a layup by Terrell Barnes followed by a monster slam dunk from Dillard with 1:09 remaining that made it 65-64. His play ignited the packed house, but Long tipped in a missed shot with 37 seconds to play as MSU reclaimed a 67-64 lead.

The Racers were 2-for-4 at the line in the final seconds to hold off Tech, which missed a couple of tough 3-pointers.

Both teams head to Nashville next week for the 2012 OVC Tournament at Municipal Auditorium. Murray is the top-seeded team in the eight-school field and has byes on Wednesday and Thursday.

The Golden Eagles finished the year as the No. 4 seed, and also earned a first-round bye on Wednesday. Tech will open play Thursday at 6 p.m. against the winner of the game between the No. 8 Eastern Kentucky and No. 5 Southeast Missouri.