RICHMOND — Cold though it was outside, there was a hot time in the ol' gym Thursday night.
Eastern Kentucky's Spencer Perrin nearly pulled off a miracle finish, stealing the inbounds pass with less than a second left in the game and, in the same motion, launching a three-point shot.
He came up far short, though, as he crashed into press row and Murray State edged the Colonels 74-72 in the Ohio Valley Conference opener for both teams.
Tied at 68 and 70 in the closing minutes, Murray took a 72-70 lead when Isaac Miles drove to the hoop with 23 seconds left.
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EKU's Joshua Jones put up a potential tying shot, but came up short. Murray's Ivan Aska and Eastern's Jaron Jones both grabbed the rebound with the possession arrow going Murray's way.
Isaiah Canaan made two free throws with 4.7 seconds left for a 74-70 lead.
Willie Cruz quickly answered with a layup with less than a second left to set up Perrin's desperation effort.
That was after a fire delayed the start of Thursday night's action in McBrayer Arena. The fire started from insulation covering an overheated boiler, located beneath the pool in the adjoining Combs Natatorium.
Teams were warming up for the women's game when the building was cleared. The scheduled 5:30 p.m. tip was delayed about 55 minutes.
Canaan scored 17 points and Aska had 16 for Murray State. Miles added 13 points and Edward Daniel had 11 for the Racers (4-3). Aska grabbed eight rebounds, while B.J. Jenkins had 10 points, six assists and four steals.
Perrin led Eastern (3-4) with 17 points, six rebounds and five assists. Josh Daniel had 15 points, Cruz 12 and Devin McDonald 10.
The EKU men led 59-54 with less than 51/2 minutes left in the game. But Murray scored the next nine points — a three-point play by Daniel, followed by Canaan with a two-pointer and a pair of two-point trips to the free-throw line.
The Colonels scored the next five to take a 64-63 lead, and it was tight the rest of the way.
Eastern led 24-10 with less than six minutes left in the first half, but Murray closed with a 12-2 run to pull to within 27-24 at intermission.
Both teams came up big at the free-throw line. Murray shot 22-for-26, Eastern 20-for-23.
Women: EKU 83,Murray State 73
Marie Carpenter scored nine of her 16 points during a 12-0 EKU run to rally the Lady Colonels to an 83-73 victory.
EKU (3-3, 1-0) trailed 57-52 when Murray's Mallory Schwab hit a three-pointer with 6:54 left.
Carpenter, a 5-8 freshman, then triggered the 12-0 run. Cherie White, who finished with 20 points, contributed a three-pointer during the run.
Reese Bass led EKU with 23 points and seven assists. Alex Jones had 11 points and 18 rebounds, her third straight double-double against Murray.
The Colonels outrebounded the Racers 51-29. EKU scored its last 12 points from the free-throw line, going 19-for-23 overall.
Mariah Robinson paced Murray (2-5, 0-1) with 21 points. Jessica Winfrey had 17 points and six rebounds. Kayla Lowe added 15 points.