The Murray State Racers saw their season end Friday in the semifinals of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament in an 86-83 defeat to the Eastern Kentucky Colonels at Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn.
The Racers finished the season 18-11 after earning a No. 2 spot in the tournament after winning the regular season OVC West Divising title with a 13-3 mark. This was the Racers 40th OVC semifinal and fell to 25-15 in the event. MSU is now 62-34 all-time in the OVC Tournament.
Cameron Payne led the way for MSU with 24 points, with 18 coming from Jeffery Moss. MSU got 13 points from Jarvis Williams to go with a game-high nine rebounds. MSU had 11 each from Jeffery Moss and T.J. Sapp.
MSU made a furious rally in the second half when they trailed by as many as 12 points with 12:03 remaining.
With 1:33 left, Sapp hit the 3-pointer that tied the game 79-79. But EKU’s Corey Walden made a quick drive to the basket and was fouled. The resulting three-point play put EKU in front 82-79 with 1:18 remaining. But the Racers worked into a spot where they had two more possessions with a chance to tie. With :27 left, the Racers made a steal but quickly turned it over. With the clock winding down under five seconds, Moss missed a three and when Jonathan Fairell got the rebound and kicked it out to Payne, his three at the buzzer to force overtime, hit the rim and fell off.
In the first half, MSU had one lead at the 15:40 mark when Payne scored on a fast break as MSU was in front 10-9. The Racers hit five 3-pointers in the first half and stayed close at the 9:32 mark when Sapp hit to cut the EKU lead to two. With 1:11 to go, EKU took its largest lead of the half when the score was 44-33. MSU got a pair of free throws from Payne and Williams and trailed 46-37 at the break.
MSU started the second half quickly on a layup by Williams and a three from Moss to make it a 46-42 game, but EKU answered to lead again by 11 at the17:22 mark 53-42. The Racers cut it to eight points again, but at the 13:04 mark, MSU trailed by 12 61-49 setting the stage for their near comeback.
The Racers made another run when Fields hit a three and Fairell hit a pair of free throws to cut it to a 72-68 EKU lead at 6:22.
The Racers lose one Senior this year, Dexter Fields.