Golden Eagles hang close but fall to league-leading Morehead State

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Morehead State held onto first place in the Ohio Valley Conference by the slimmest margin Saturday night in Eblen Center, escaping a border war against Tennessee Tech with a 72-64 victory with the final margin inflated by free throws in the final seconds.
Kenneth Farried, the leading rebounder in the league, led Morehead State with a powerful double-double, getting 23 points and 19 rebounds in addition to four steals. Leon Buchanan had 16 points and six rebounds, while Maze Stallworth added 16 points, going 11-for-12 at the free throw line.

Will Barnes paced the Golden Eagles with 19 points while Frank Davis had 14 points and a career-high six steals. Daniel Northern added five blocked shots to his league-leading total, but fouled out with four points and six rebounds.

The visiting Eagles used a decided edge at the free throw line in the foul-marred contest to improve to 10-3 in the conference and 14-11 overall. Tech dropped its second straight at home and slipped to 11-12 overall and 5-8 in conference action.

The Golden Eagles will close their three-game homestand Monday night with a 7 p.m. contest against Austin Peay.

The box score was filled with foul troubles for both teams, and two headliners left early with their fifth foul. It also had Morehead State taking 44 shots at the charity stripe while Tech attempted 25 shots. Tech finished with 28 team fouls and MSU had 19.

Tech led the first eight minutes of the first half and Morehead State had the advantage for the final 12 minutes. MSU’s lead grew to 11 points, 26-15, with six minutes to play before Tech battled back.

Down nine with four minutes remaining, Tech closed the period with a 7-0 run to make it a two-point game at halftime, 31-29.

The visiting Eagles saw their lead cut to one point a couple of times in the first two minutes of the second half, but Demonte Harper keyed a 12-2 Morehead State stretch that made it an 11-point game, 47-36.

Down by 10, 50-40, the Golden Eagles had a 7-0 run that included back-to-back 3-pointers by Frank Davis and Kevin Murphy, and suddenly it was a three-point game.

Tech eventually tied the contest at 59-59 on a layup by Muhammad, but Morehead State bounced back with the next six points to go up 65-59 with 3:40 remaining.

That edge proved to be the difference, as Tech could only pull to within three points, twice, during the final minutes.