|Racers’ net worth keeps adding up
|Posted: Tuesday, February 21, 2012 8:44 am
|By COLIN FLY
AP Sports Writer
MURRAY (AP) — Isaiah Canaan stood with a line of 50 autograph seekers and a net around his neck more than an hour after the game.
This was more than a celebration for the junior point guard. This was a coronation for one of the best mid-major players in the country.
“This will be my third one. It kind of feels kind of good to cut these down,” Canaan said, tugging at the net. “They’re kind of hard to come by in college basketball.”
Not for Murray State.
Canaan scored 17 of his 23 points in the second half and senior Donte Poole added 11 as No. 16 Murray State beat No. 21 Saint Mary’s 65-51 on Saturday night for its most convincing win to date over a nationally recognized opponent.
Then the Racers (26-1) celebrated the Ohio Valley Conference regular-season title that they had already clinched — their third straight — with a video message from former coach Billy Kennedy as well as a highlight package for the seniors.
They can also rest easier with their first victory over a quality opponent since beating Memphis in early December before hosting this Bracket Buster matchup with the Gaels.
“If we can finish the season strong, it gives us a chance to get a good seed,” Racers rookie coach Steve Prohm said. “But, regardless of where you’re seeded — five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10 — you’re going to play somebody good.”
Maybe someone like St. Mary’s, even though this game was never very close in front of 8,825, the largest crowd ever at the CFSB Center.
Murray State jumped out to a 10-2 lead and never trailed, building a double-digit advantage early in the second half and cruising from there.
“This is definitely a confidence-builder for sure. It’s a ranked team, so it lets you know that you are as good as the rankings say you are,” senior Jewuan Long said. “It gives us confidence to know that we can play with other teams in bigger conferences, so we definitely have more confidence.”
Matthew Dellavedova scored 17 points for Saint Mary’s (23-5), which has lost three of four. Now the Gaels will face a 2,300-mile trek home and questions about their NCAA tournament resume.
“I just told our team this: ‘We have a lot of things we’ve got to do better, but we need to get everybody on the same page defensively, and we’re not there,”’ Gaels coach Randy Bennett said.
Murray State opened the second half with consecutive baskets to take its first double-digit lead as Canaan and the Racers turned up the pressure while shooting 58.1 percent from the field.
In one sequence, Canaan curled off a screen and took a pass from Poole to hit another long 3-pointer, and Brandon Garrett blocked Brad Waldow’s attempt that led to a 3-on-1 break completed by Canaan.
Published in The Messenger 2.20.12