Tech awaits possible postseason invitation
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Kevin Murphy became just the 16th player in OVC history to reach 2,000 career points, but his 31 wasn't enough to lift the Golden Eagles Friday. Tech fell to No. 9 Murray State, 78-58, in a tournament semifinal contest.
Murphy needed 19 points to reach the milestone coming into Friday’s game and notched his 2,000th point with a jumper at the 17:50 mark of the second half. He joined Earl Wise as one of just two Golden Eagles ever to reach the mark.
Murphy’s milestone jump shot pulled the Golden Eagles to within five points, but from there, Murray State slowly built its lead into double-figures, where it stayed for the rest of the evening. The Racers outscored Tech 21-9 over the next seven minutes of play, taking a 62-43 lead with 10:13 remaining.
The Golden Eagles would pull to within 13 points at the 6:13 mark, but a 10-2 run by the Racers put the game out of reach.
Tech was paced by Murphy’s 31 points, five rebounds and three assists. It was the fifth 30-plus-point game of the senior guard’s season.
Jud Dillard added eight points and seven boards for the Golden Eagles while Bassey Inameti contributed six points and Javon McKay and Zach Bailey each added five rebounds.
“It hurts a lot,” Bailey said of the loss. “I am just proud of my team and my coaching staff. I wouldn’t trade any team for this team.”
Three Racers scored in double-figures, led by Donte Poole, who tossed in a team-high 25 points and seven rebounds. Isaiah Canaan added 18 and Ed Daniel scored 11.
With the loss, Tech’s record falls to 19-13 on the season while the ninth-ranked Racers improved to 29-1 and will play the winner of Tennessee State-Morehead State in Saturday’s championship game. The Golden Eagles will await word on a possible postseason destination in the CBI, CIT or NIT.
“They are No. 9 in the country and have had a great year and we knew that we would have to play well to have a chance to win the game,” Tech head coach Steve Payne said. “We thought we could win the game. I didn’t feel like we played really well. But they had a lot to do with that. They have good players and a good coach.”
Murray State shot 55 percent from the field, including a 61 percent clip in the second half, and outscored Tech 42-20 in the paint. The Golden Eagles turned the ball over 19 times while forcing Murray State into 14 turnovers.
Tech finished with six steals on the night, including two from Zac Swansey. Swansey’s two thefts moved him into ninth on Tech’s all-time list, passing Marc Glanton.
The Golden Eagles shot 39 percent from the field and went 5-for-19 (26 percent) from beyond the three-point arc. Both numbers fell well below Tech’s regular-season averages of a 47.4 field-goal percentage and 36.6 three-point percentage.
Tech was whistled for 23 personal fouls while Murray State was called for 19.
Murray State roared out to a quick 10-2 advantage and grew its lead as high as 14 with 10:51 left in the first half. Tech fought back, however, cutting the Racers’ lead to five on two free throws by Bailey with 12 seconds left in the half.
Stay tuned to TTUSports.com for an announcement regarding possible postseason play for the Golden Eagles.