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SEMO can’t delay Racers’ 3-peat pursuit

SEMO can’t delay Racers’ 3-peat pursuit

Posted: Thursday, February 16, 2012 7:00 pm

AP Sports Writer
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) — Maybe Murray State is getting over its chance of an unbeaten season being spoiled.
The 16th-ranked Racers did a good job neutralizing Southeast Missouri State’s first sellout crowd in 12 years, clinching their third straight Ohio Valley Conference championship. And without much from leading scorer Isaiah Canaan.
Donte Poole hit four 3-pointers and scored 25 points and Murray State held Southeast Missouri State to season-worst 37.3 percent shooting in a 75-66 victory Wednesday night.
“It shows a lot. It shows our toughness, how deep we are and how tight we are,” Poole said. “Not every game is going to be Isaiah’s game. It was just on us to come out and help him.”
Poole totaled 23 points the previous three games on 6-for-24 shooting. He was 4-for-6 from 3-point range and 7-for-12 overall.
“We just tried to key on Canaan and ended up letting the next-best player go off,” Southeast Missouri’s Corey Wilford said. “We’re going to have to stop both of them the next time.”
Ivan Aska had 14 points and nine rebounds for the Racers (25-1, 13-1), who have won two straight since getting upset at home by Tennessee State last week to end a 23-0 start. They have dominated the series with Southeast Missouri, 50-17.
“The Tennessee State game is still surreal,” first-year coach Steve Prohm said. “I’ll move past it a little bit now that we won tonight.”
Now, the players want a lot more.
“We want to win a conference tournament championship and go and make some noise in the NCAA tournament,” Poole said. “We have bigger goals and aspirations and we just want to make sure we’re hungry every game.”
Canaan, second in the conference with a 19.6 average, was held scoreless for the first 17 minutes and finished with nine points on 2-for-11 shooting.
Canaan had 32 points in the first meeting, an 81-73 victory at home Feb. 2.
“When Isaiah gets only nine points and we get 75, that makes me feel really good,” Brohm said. “Isaiah’s terrific, I wouldn’t trade him for anybody.”
Leon Powell had 13 points and eight rebounds for Southeast Missouri State (14-12, 9-5), and Wilford added 12 points with three 3-pointers in the second half. Tyler Stone, the Redhawks’ leading scorer with a 15.0 average, was scoreless in 15 minutes.
Southeast Missouri State’s home finale was also the school’s first home game against a Top 25 team and attracted a crowd of 7,125, the first sellout at the Show Me Center in 12 years. The Redhawks beat Murray State at home last season but have never beaten the Racers in consecutive years at home.
Southeast Missouri State hoped the loss wouldn’t scare away fans in the future.
“The outcome wasn’t like we wanted but we thank them,” Wilford said. “Don’t let it just be a one-time thing.”
Murray State trailed by 11 points early in the second half of the earlier meeting. The Racers led by 10 at halftime of the rematch despite Canaan’s shaky start and Southeast Missouri got no closer than five points the rest of the way.
“I think you’ve got to credit their go-to guys,” Southeast Missouri State coach Dickey Nutt said. “They just made big shot after big shot.”
Poole hit all four 3-pointers in the first half, two during a stretch of eight consecutive points that put Murray State up 32-20 with 54 seconds to go. That offset a poor start by Canaan, who missed his first six shots against frequent double coverage before hitting a 3-pointer with just under 3 minutes left.
Southeast Missouri State’s halftime point total was just one more than its season-worst and the Redhawks fell short despite shooting 53 percent the rest of the way. Players hoped it wouldn’t scare away fans in the future.
“The outcome wasn’t like we wanted but we thank them,” Wilford said. “Don’t let it just be a one-time thing.”

Published in The Messenger 2.16.12

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