Men's Basketball

Morehead, Murray in OVC duel

NASHVILLE — The top men's seeds in the Ohio Valley Conference Basketball Tournament did exactly what they needed to Friday night.

After top-seeded Murray State edged No. 4 Eastern Illinois 55-51 in Bridgestone Arena, second-seeded Morehead State won the second semifinal, 76-47, over No. 6 Tennessee Tech.

Morehead, the defending champion, will take on Murray in the finals Saturday night at 8 (EST). Murray is seeking a 14th OVC tourney title and its first since 2006.

Maze Stallworth led Morehead (23-9) with 24 points and seven rebounds. The 6-foot-4 senior out of John Hardin High School shot 8-for-12 from the field, including 4-for-5 from three-point range, and was 4-for-5 at the free-throw line.

Overall, Morehead shot 9-for-20 from three-point range.

Kenneth Faried, Terrance Hill and Demonte Harper added 10 points each. Faried, the nation's leading rebounder with 13.2 per game, grabbed nine Friday.

Ty Proffitt, filling in for injured point guard Brandon Shingles, had five points, two assists and a steal, with just one turnover.

Coach Donnie Tyndall says this is his deepest team in his four seasons at Morehead.

"They've very, very unselfish," he said, "and they don't care about anything but winning."

Elijah Muhammad, Jud Dillard, Alfred Jones and Zach Bailey each scored nine points for Tech (15-17).

"A huge part of our game plan was contain (Tech's guards) and making them drive the ball rather than letting them get in a rhythm from three-point range," Tyndall said. "They were 1-for-11 from the three-point line, which was huge. That's a big reason why we won tonight."

Morehead had the game in hand by halftime, taking a 39-21 lead to the locker room. MSU outshot Tech, going 13-for-25 (52 percent) from the field to the Golden Eagles' 6-for-21 (28.6 percent).

Stallworth shot 3-for-4 from three-point range and had 15 first-half points for the Eagles. Harper added seven. Faried had six points, six rebounds, two blocks and an assist.

Tech scored the first four points of the second half to pull to within 14 points but came no closer.

The opener "was by far the ugliest game we've played offensively," Murray Coach Billy Kennedy said. "We made a lot of bad plays. You've got to give Eastern Illinois some credit for that but, gosh, it was ugly."

Murray advanced despite shooting 8-for-32 (25 percent) in the first half. The Racers improved somewhat in the second half to finish 19-for-59 (32.2 percent) overall.

Murray (29-4), tying the school record for wins in a season, was led by Tony Easley with 14 points and nine rebounds. Included were seven offensive boards, a category Murray dominated 24-11. Easley also blocked three shots, including back-to-back chances by Tyler Laser and Ousmane Cisse in the final seconds.

"Just helping once again," said Easley, a 6-foot-9 senior from Auburn, Ala. "That's why I've been doing all season, and that's really all I know."

Fourth-seeded Eastern Illinois (19-12) was led by Cisse and Shaun Pratl with nine points each. Tied at 43, Murray took the lead for keeps on a Jenkins trey with 6:42 left.

  Comments