RENO, Nev. – Morehead State University overcame a 13-point second half deficit to force overtime, but Xavier Moon’s half court heave as time expired went in-and-out as the Eagles fell 85-82 at the University of Nevada in the decisive game three of the CBI Finals on Friday night.
With the loss, Morehead State concludes the season at 23-14, marking the most wins for the Eagles since they went 25-10 in 2010-11.
“I can’t ask any more than what my guys gave me tonight,” said head coach Sean Woods. “We fought through a ton of adversity in front of a hostile crowd. For these guys to play like this and not give in is a testament to their character and their will. But, this is what we’ve been all year. We don’t stop playing until the final buzzer and that’s what we did tonight.”
Trailing 55-46 with 12:37 to go in the game, the Eagles responded with an 8-0 run capped off by a Lamontray Harris dunk to get them back within one.
The two teams battled back and forth the rest of the way until Nevada built a four-point lead with 27 seconds to go on two free throws by Cameron Oliver. But, it was Harris’ turn on the other end as his third three-pointer of the game trimmed the lead to one at 74-73 with 19 seconds to go.
After Nevada hit one of two from the line, DeJuan Marrero was sent to the free throw line on the other end and knocked down both to tie the game and send it to overtime despite the fact that he was just 3-of-8 from the stripe before the two critical makes.
In overtime, the Eagles took an 82-80 lead on a layup by Lyonell Gaines with 1:55 to play. After Nevada hit one of two from the free throw line, Morehead State had a chance to extend the lead, but Miguel Dicent’s jumper didn’t fall. Then with 13 seconds to go, the Wolf Pack’s Tyson Criswell hit a layup to give Nevada an 83-82.
The Eagles had two chances on the other end, but layups by Dicent and Marrero wouldn’t fall. After D.J. Fenner hit both free throws to give Nevada a three-point lead with 1.5 seconds remaining, Moon’s halfcourt shot fell just off the iron to end the game.
Senior Lyonell Gaines led the Eagles with 17 points and five rebounds, but the freshman stole the show. Malik Maitland came off the bench and played a career-high 33 minutes in the absence of All-OVC second team guard Corban Collins. The freshman from Daytona Beach, Fla. tied career-highs with 12 points and nine assists. He was 2-of-5 from three-point land and both of his threes came at crucial points. Harris also played a career-high 29 minutes and finished with a career-high 15 points on 3-of-6 shooting from deep.
“Coach (Woods) coaches everyone the same, from top to bottom,” said Gaines. “We’re a good team from one-through-fifteen, but if it wasn’t for our freshman tonight, we wouldn’t have had a chance late.”
Senior Brent Arrington had 11 points on 5-of-12 shooting in his last game as an Eagle, while Marrero had 11 points, six rebounds, and four assists. Sophomore Miguel Dicent added 10 points.
Morehead State finished just 6-of-13 from the free throw line opposed to Nevada, who shot 39-of-45 from the charity stripe.
The Eagles held the Wolf Pack to just 38 percent shooting on the night, but couldn’t keep them off the free throw line as 39 of their 85 points came from the stripe. Morehead State shot 47 percent on the night and shot 6-of-18 from deep after shooting 1-for-16 from three-point range in game two.