Despite leading by as many as 14 midway through the first half, Morehead State dropped a 75-69 heartbreaker to Murray State in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament quarterfinals.
"First off, great game by Murray State," said interim head coach Preston Spradlin. "But, this team is so special. They mean so much to me, to each other, to our university, to our community, and to their families. At the end of the day, that's what this is all about."
The Eagles opened the first half in dominant fashion, leading 22-8 at the 10:34 mark. Taking a 44-37 advantage into halftime, Morehead State connected on 16-of-27 (.593) attempts from the field before intermission.
The second half provided a different narrative, however, turning into a back-and-forth contest down the stretch. Seven lead changes and four ties later, the Eagles ended the game on the wrong end of a 6-0 run.
Murray State was anchored by a mammoth performance from junior guard Jonathan Stark, who poured in 37 points on 7-of-13 (.538) shooting from three-point range. Shooting 3-of-8 (.375) from downtown in the first period, Morehead State turned in an 0-for-8 showing from downtown in the second half.
First team All-OVC performer Xavier Moon logged 16 points, six assists, four rebounds, and two steals without missing a single minute of action. Second team all-conference big man DeJuan Marrero recorded 15 points, nine boards, and one assist.
Fellow seniors Treshaad Williams and Ronnye Beamon Jr. scored 12 and eight points, respectively. Sophomore forward Lamontray Harris did all of his scoring over a second-half stretch where he tallied nine of 11 points for the Eagles.
In a 2016-17 campaign riddled with adversity, Morehead State turned an early eight-game losing skid into a 10-6 league record - the second best mark in the OVC. Along with Moon, Marrero, Williams, and Beamon, the Eagles will graduate 6-foot-9 forward Ty'Quan Bitting this offseason.
"This team has been through a lot this year," Spradlin said. "Our seniors were a huge part to our success this season. They really helped bring our team together, and it's just been a special year."