MOREHEAD, Ky. — Trailing throughout the contest, Morehead State’s men’s basketball team put together a 12-0 run in the final five-plus minutes and held off a pesky Eastern Illinois team in the final minute for a 69-66 Ohio Valley Conference victory at Johnson Arena Saturday.
The Eagles won their third straight game and improved to 9-8 overall and 3-1 in the league. EIU, which dropped consecutive road games by three points this week, fell to 7-9 and 0-4 in the conference.
Trailing 58-55 with 6:25 remaining, freshman forward Tyzhaun Claude converted a lay-in to bring his team to within one. Just more than a minute later, sophomore guard Malik Riddle gave the home team its first lead, and the advantage for good, with a steal and slam dunk. The Eagles went on to lead 67-58 before a furious rally brought the Panthers back to within 67-66 with just 14 seconds left.
Junior guard Juice Thomas, despite playing a majority of the second half with four fouls, led the Eagles with 18 points, six assists and five rebounds. Senior guard Djimon Hensonregistered 10 points. Josiah Wallace led EIU with 17 points but was limited to only four in the final 20 minutes.
MSU finished a five-game homestand with this contest and now heads to Nashville, Tenn., next weekend to face Tennessee State Thursday and Belmont Saturday.
– EIU opened the game with five straight points.
– Senior guard Jordan Walker scored a bucket at the 8:02 mark of the half to make it a 16-14 contest, but EIU scored five straight, capped by a Wallace triple, to push back ahead by seven.
– A dunk by junior James Baker with three ticks left set the halftime deficit for the Eagles at 36-31.
– EIU led by as much as nine in the second half (43-34) and still led 50-42 with 13:38 left before the Eagles began to finally chip away.
– Wallace’s jumper at 6:48 was the last field goal the Panthers hit until 50 seconds remaining.
– Following Riddle’s breakaway, Claude stuffed a slam with 4:34 left after an assist from Henson.
– Morehead State shot 64 percent (14-of-22) in the second half and forced the visitors to shoot only 33 percent (10-for-30) in the half.
– Baker led the team with six rebounds (MSU and EIU tied in the rebounding column 34-34) and also had two blocked shots.
– Sophomore forward Jaden Stanley-Williamsnetted eight points in 19 minutes.
– MSU only had two three-pointers, but extended its streak to 422 straight games (since 2007) with at least one three-ball.
QUOTING COACH SPRADLIN
“That was a lot of fun. Down six at halftime and our leaders found a way to grind it out for us. EIU is a tough team, they really score the ball. They are better than an 0-4 team. We had to play a lot of the second half with Juice (Thomas) and Jordan (Walker) on the bench with foul trouble, so it allowed guys like Djimon (Henson), Ta’lon (Cooper) and Malik (Riddle) to get out there show us what they had.”
“Malik’s defense was huge. He was coming off the flu and only played 25 minutes and didn’t practice much, but he was phenomenal. Overall everyone has to contribute when your best player is on the bench with foul trouble. Jaden (Stanley-Williams) and James (Baker) gave us great efforts tonight too.”