Late Push by Racers Ends Bears' CIT Run
March 19, 2014
SPRINGFIELD – Missouri State (20-13) rallied from an early 13-point deficit to lead by as many as 9 points in the second half. But in the end, it was visiting Murray State (19-11) that executed when it counted most, scoring four decisive points in the final 19.6 seconds to steal a 66-63 win in the opening round of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament here Wednesday.
A floater by Cameron Payne with 19.6 seconds to go gave the Racers their first lead of the final period, 64-63, while the Ohio Valley Conference Freshman of the Year sank two clutch free throws with just over 7 ticks remaining to push the visitors ahead by the final margin. Missouri State used its final timeout to set up a potential tying 3-pointer, but the in-bound pass from senior Nathan Scheer to Christian Kirk was swallowed up in defensive traffic just before the final horn sounded.
Payne finished with 19 points for Murray State, while Jarvis Williams had game highs with 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Racers. The Bears got 13 points from senior Jarmar Gulley, 12 points and 5 assists from Dorrian Williams and 11 points from Tyler McCullough.
The late surge by the Racers was made possible by a critical effort over a six-minute stretch before the midway point in the second half. After McCullough scored 6 straight Bears’ points to give the home club its biggest lead of the night, 48-39, Murray State went on a 13-4 outburst to pull even at the 10:57 mark.
Missouri State sophomore Gavin Thurman answered the run with a 3-pointer from the right wing to give the maroon and white a 55-52 advantage. McCullough made 3-of-4 free throws to get the Bears’ lead to 58-54 with 5:20 to play, and later Gulley responded with a key 3-pointer to squelch the Racers’ momentum after a Jarvis Williams dunk. Gulley’s shot made it a 61-56 game with 4:46 to play, but Williams rallied the visitors again – first on an offensive rebound and put-back and later with another dunk to make it a one-point game with just over 3 minutes to play.
Dorrian Williams drove to the bucket and got Jarvis Williams off his feet with a shot fake for a critical layup on the next possession for the home side to make it 63-60 with 2:46 on the clock, but Missouri State would not score again. The Bears missed their next three shots and turned the ball over at a critical juncture with just over a minute to play that led to a Tyler Rambo drive to the rim that fouled Gulley out on a key transition bucket.
After a Ron Mvouika miss by the Bears, Payne’s floater at the 19.6-second mark gave the Racers their first lead since the 2:34 mark of the first half. Missouri State still had a good look down the stretch to retake the lead, but a 3-point shot by Austin Ruder with 7.1 seconds to play caromed off the back iron to Payne who was fouled and sank both charity shots.
Murray State finished 24-for-59 (.407) from the field and 5-of-18 (.278) from beyond the arc, including 1-of-10 in the second half. The Racers out-rebounded the Bears by a 38-34 margin and committed just 8 turnovers while converting 13-of-17 (.765) from the line.
Missouri State, which blew a halftime lead for just the second time this season, was 24-for-58 (.414) from the field, 7-of-24 (.292) from long range and 8-of-10 (.800) at the line. The Bears turned the ball over 8 times and outscored the visitors’ bench by a 17-2 margin.
In the early going, Murray stormed out of the gates to a 16-3 lead six minutes into the game as the home side missed 9 of its first 10 shots. But an 18-5 run by Paul Lusk’s team over the next 5 minutes, 46 seconds tied the game at 21. The lead changed hands three more times from there before an alley-oop dunk by Christian Kirk with just over 2 minutes left in the half helped Missouri State take a 37-36 lead into the intermission.
Gulley finished his two-year Missouri State career with 806 points to rank 45th on the club’s all-time scoring list – 12th among two-year players. Ruder splashed home his 72nd 3-pointer of the season to finish tied for third all-time among Missouri Valley Conference freshman in scoring beyond the arc.
The Bears finished 14-3 at home on the season and improved 9 games over last season’s 11-22 ledger while registering the program’s third 20-win campaign in five years.