MURRAY, Ky. (EIU) -- Murray State used an 18-4 run early in the first half to set the tone for the Ohio Valley Conference opener as the Racers beat Eastern Illinois, 80-52, on Thursday night at the CFSB Center.
EIU dropped to 4-8 overall, 0-1 in the OVC. The Panthers play Saturday night at Austin Peay. Murray State improved to 9-3 overall, 1-0 in the OVC.
The Panthers took an early 5-4 lead on baskets by Ray Crossland and Montell Goodwin. The Racers answered with an 18-4 run as they quickly opened the game. Terrell Miller had six points in the run in the paint where Murray State scored 16 of its first 22 points. Jonathan Stark added the other six points on 3-pointers. Stark finished with 21 points for the Racers. Miller added 11.
The story of the night for Murray State was freshman guard Ja Morant finishing with a triple-double with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists. Murray State increased the lead to 22-9 on the 18-4 run. EIU answered with a 10-0 run of its own as the Panthers had driving baskets by D'Angelo Jackson. Jackson finished with 13 points including going 6-of-6 from the free throw line. Murray State led 41-31 at the half.
Shaq Buchanan scored six of the first eight points of the second half for the Racers as they quickly pulled away. Buchanan was the fourth Murray State player in double figures with 15 points. EIU shot only 21 percent from the floor in the second half and 29 percent for the game. Goodwin finished with 16 points going 4-of-9 from 3-point range. The Panthers were held to just six assists but only turned the ball over eight times in the game. Murray State held a plus 20 rebound margin finishing with a 52-32 advantage which led to 16 second chance points. Morant had ten rebounds for Murray State. Aboubacar Diallo had six rebounds to lead EIU.