Friday, January 15, 2016

Morehead State Survives Overtime Battle at SIU Edwardsville

Morehead State 70
SIU Edwardsville 67 F/OT

Final from Edwardsville, Illinois

Game recap by MSU:

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. - The Morehead State men's basketball team battled back from a 17-point first half deficit and received 18 second half points from senior forward Anthony Elechi to down SIUE in overtime, 70-67.

With the win, they move to 9-7 overall and 3-1 in OVC play. The Cougars fall to 3-14 and remain winless in league play at 0-5.

"I tip my hat off to SIUE, but I really tip my hat off to our team for finding a way to win in an adverse situation on the road," said head coach Sean Woods.

The Cougars jumped out to an early 22-5 lead courtesy of the hot shooting of junior guard Burak Eslik, who scored 20 of SIUE's first 22 points. He knocked down his first seven three-point attempts and scored 28 of the Cougars' 35 first half points.

With two starters, junior guard Corban Collins and senior forward Anthony Elechi, on the bench for most of the first half with two fouls, the Eagles chipped away at the early lead courtesy of the play of freshman forward Lamontray Harris. Harris reeled off seven straight points at one point and had a career-high 12 points in the first half.

The Eagles trimmed the lead to five at halftime, at 35-30.

To start the second half, Morehead State scored the first five points and took their first lead since 2-0 at 39-37 on a hook shot by junior forward DeJuan Marrero.

The two teams then battled back-and-forth the rest of the way and MSU had a chance to win it at the buzzer, but Elechi's shot fell off the rim and the Eagles and Cougars went to overtime knotted at 62.

Elechi, who had 12 points in the second half after failing to score in the first, remained hot in overtime, scoring the Eagles' first six points. He knocked down a pair of free throws with 1:53 remaining, giving MSU the lead at 68-67.

Freshman guard Malik Maitland then knocked down a pair of clutch free throws with nine seconds left to build the lead to three points and the Eagles got a stop on the defensive end to seal the victory at 70-67.

After playing just two minutes in the first half due to foul trouble, Elechi controlled the game throughout the second half and overtime. He finished with a career-high 18 points, knocking down 7-of-12 shots, and was 4-of-7 from the free throw line.

"I really got on him (Elechi) at halftime because we need him on the court and he played just two minutes in the first half because of foul trouble," said Woods. "I told him, you're the most dominating big man in the league and you have to play better than that. In the second half, he settled down, we went to him, and he delivered."

Maitland also played a key role down the stretch. He finished with a career-high 11 points, dished out two assists, but most importantly went 6-of-7 from the free throw line after missing his first attempt.

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