On Thursday night, the Murray State Racers basketball team played like a squad worthy of a tournament bid for 35 minutes.
They faced a Belmont team that had never lost an Ohio Valley Conference game in school history. Murray State changed that with a thrilling 79-74 victory over the visiting Bruins.
For 35 minutes the Racers played like a team that can advance to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament.
With a 67-53 lead with 4:59 to play, Murray State appeared to have its biggest victory of the season.
Everything changed as Belmont ripped that momentum away when they buried five three-pointers during its game changing 21-6 run in less than four minutes.
But a win is a win tonight.
Something they haven’t done this year. And that’s a milestone for the Racers. When a team denies Canaan the ball, another guy needs to assume leadership.
Stacy Wilson stepped up tonight when Belmont eliminated Canaan. Despite only hitting six of his 16 shots, he scored 16 points. .
Then there’s Brandon Garrett who hit six of seven shots and scored 13.
The Racers were rewarded with their unselfish play as they dished out 15 assists. When a team shares the ball, good things happen on the court.
Canaan still scored a game high 26 points, 15 from the charity stripe. He hit the game winning three-pointer with 35 seconds to go.
Had the Racers not spread the floor, Belmont would’ve won by 20 points.
Finally, Murray State conquered a battle that has plagued them for the previous two years. Turnovers. The Racers only coughed up the ball eight times against a high caliber team.
Turnovers decide basketball games. The Racers would’ve lost this game if they would’ve turned it over more than 10 times.
But that didn’t happen tonight. The ball didn’t have to go through Canaan. Other players stepped up and Canaan still led the team in points.
Why did Canaan have such a fabulous season last year? Teammates, Donte Poole, Jewuan Long, and Ivan Aska played key roles.
Teams feared the other three guys on the floor; knowing that if they forgot about them, then the Racers would punish them
Tonight, Murray State punished Belmont severely in a similar way.
Only for a period of five minutes did the Racers play poorly. And it almost cost them the game.
It’s correctable; but Murray State got lazy on defense, and allowed the sharpshooting Bruins to go on a run.
You don’t let a team score 21 points in four minutes. The Racers simply stopped playing with intensity as Belmont hit five consecutive three-pointers.
Prior to the run, Murray State limited Belmont to four of fifteen shooting from beyond the arch.
Prohm and his squad should celebrate. The Racers leaped forward, not backwards with the win tonight
Which is good, March 1st is exactly three weeks away. And a dangerous Tennessee State squad awaits the Racers on Saturday.