EVANSVILLE, Ind. — Led by a career high 22 points from sophomore Malek Green, Morehead State men’s basketball advanced in the 2019 Ohio Valley Conference with a 72-68 victory SIU Edwardsville Wednesday at the Ford Center.
The Eagles, the fifth seed, improved to 13-19. SIUE’s Cougars, the eighth seed, ended its season at 10-21.
The Eagles needed every point by Green, who was 10-od-12 from the field. After building a 37-24 halftime lead, MSU saw the Cougars battle back and take the lead before the Eagles were 6-of-6 from the free throw line in the final 19 seconds to stave off the SIUE comeback bid.
“So proud of our guys, everyone in our program,” said head coach Preston Spradlin. “We knew it would be a fight, credit SIUE, they made a run. We stayed the course and hard work payed off. We have gone through some adversity, but we are stronger as a unit for it.”
Green also pulled down eight rebounds to tie for team high honors with sophomore James Baker, who also had 13 points and four blocked shots. Junior guard Jordan Walker scored 14, while senior guard A.J. Hicks dished out nine assists and had zero turnovers.
Brandon Jackson led the SIUE squad with 17 points and nine boards.
Morehead State registered 22 assists, just two short of the season high of 24 set versus UT Martin at home.
SIUE hit seven of its first eight second-half shots and eventually erased the Eagles lead, taking a 56-55 cushion with 8:08 left. However, sophomore De’von Cooper’s jumper in the paint with 5:23 remaining gave his team a 59-57 lead it never gave up.
The Eagles got true free throws from Walker, Cooper and Green in the final 19 seconds as SIUE kept nailing shots on its end to force the Eagles to hit free tosses.
MSU ended up shooting 49 percent (28-of-57) for the night.
The Eagles advance to face fourth-seeded Austin Peay Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. in the quarterfinals.