BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – A valiant 45-minute effort by the Morehead State men’s basketball club came up just short in overtime at Samford Thursday. The host Bulldogs used a late 10-3 run in the extra five minutes to close the game and defeat the Eagles 77-72 at the Pete Hanna Center.
Morehead State slipped to 3-7.
“I was really encouraged tonight,” said head coach Preston Spradlin. “I told our team we have to compete together, and we broke every huddle with that. I thought we did that tonight. We did a really nice job of applying the scouting report and took them out of some things they are good at.”
The Eagles forced Samford into 19 mistakes and turned that into 23 points. Junior guard Jordan Walker registered a team-best 22 points – his fifth 20-point effort and second in as many games. Senior guard A.J. Hicks scored 11 and handed out a game-best seven assists before fouling out a minute into the overtime period.
Sophomore forward James Baker earned his first start of the season and just the third of his career, responding with a career-best 12 points and a team (and career) high eight rebounds.
“James had great energy and was very vocal on the defensive end,” said Spradlin. “He answered the call and was terrific tonight.”
The teams combined for eight lead changes in the final five minutes of regulation. Following a three-ball by Samford’s Brandon Austin with 29 seconds left, Baker laid in a bucket with 11 seconds remaining for a 64-63 Eagle lead. Josh Sharkey drove and sank a bucket with five ticks left for another Bulldog one-point cushion, before Hicks was fouled on a drive to the basket with 0.4 left.
Hicks missed the first free toss but nailed the second for overtime.
A pair of free throws by freshman Malik Riddle gave the visitors a 69-67 lead with 2:56 left in the extra frame, but then Samford scored the next 10 before Walker canned the final triple with a second left.
The Eagles trailed 20-19 with 6:22 left in the first half, but a 16-4 run catapulted the visitors into an 11-point halftime cushion (35-24). MSU forced 13 Samford mistakes in the opening half.
“We did some great things defensively in the first half. To hold a team like that to 24 points in 20 minutes is doing something good,” Spradlin added.
Walker scored 12 by the half, including a coast-to-coast reverse lay-in off the glass as time expired.
Morehead State shot 37 percent (27-of-52) on the night. Austin finished with 25 points and 10 boards for the Bulldogs.
Morehead State stays on the road for its next action as the Eagles take on Wright State Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET.