Blake Lovell also contributed to this story.
An hour after Jacksonville State beat South East Missouri State in the second round of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament, the Morehead State Eagles and Murray State Racers took the court of Nashville’s Municipal Auditorium to complete quarterfinal play.
During the first round of the tournament, Murray State beat Tennessee Tech, 85-84, in a double-overtime thriller. This magic would carry over to the second round as the Racers pushed past Morehead State in the closing minutes of the game, 75-69.
The matchup was a story of comebacks by Murray State — one in the first half and another in the second half.
Morehead State jumped out to a 15-3 lead seven minutes into the game. They had completed an 11-point run behind senior guard Xavier Moon, while Murray State shot a measly 1-6 from the field and had six turnovers.
By halftime, though, Murray State brought the score to 44-37, thanks to efficiency at the free throw line and streaky offense from junior guard Jonathan Stark.
Stark scored 18 points in the first half, and his team went to the charity stripe 15 times, converting 13 attempts (87%).
With nine minutes remaining in the second half, Morehead State opened another double-digit lead, 61-51, after sophomore forward Lamontray Harris came off the bench and contributed a quick nine points.
Again, though, Murray State responded behind the leadership of James Stark, who gave the Racers a 62-61 lead after hitting two three-pointers, dishing out an assist to junior forward Terrell Miller Jr., and converting two free throw attempts.
Stark was undoubtedly the best performer for both teams, finishing the game with 37 points, four assists, and three rebounds. He shot 11-of-25 (44%) from the field and 7-of-13 (54%) from beyond the arc, while converted 8-of-9 free throw attempts.
It was a fitting follow-up to his 41-point outing against Tennessee Tech in Wednesday’s first round game.
Murray State now advances to the semifinals of the OVC Tournament, where they will face the No. 2 seeded UT Martin Skyhawks on Friday.