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Murray State Slips By Cougars at Vadalabene Center

Murray State Slips By Cougars at Vadalabene Center

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. - Murray State escaped with a 67-61 win Wednesday night over Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in men's basketball at the Vadalabene Center.

The Racers and Cougars treated a crowd of over 1,500 fans to a preview of Ohio Valley Conference basketball and perhaps a blossoming rivalry. The game featured five lead changes and was tied five times. Neither team had more than a seven-point lead at any point during the game.

"Our fans were great tonight," SIUE Coach Lennox Forrester said. "All of our fans, the students, the season ticket holders gave our guys a lot of energy."

In a sign of things to come, Nikola Bundalo hauled in a rebound and Cornelius Chatt had two points in the first 30 seconds of the game and the Cougars got out to a quick four-point lead.

Bundalo finished with eight points and a career-high 17 rebounds.

"He was really getting after the boards tonight," Forrester said of his senior center.

Chatt finished with 24 points to lead all scorers. It was Chatt's third consecutive 20-plus point effort and his fifth of the season. He was 7 of 12 from the floor, including 5 of 8 from three-point range.

"Cornelius was in a zone," Forrester said.

The Cougars, 5-18, stretched their first-half lead to five when Corey Wickware drained a three-point basket with 8:05 to play before the half. Wickware was the only other Cougar in double figures. He scored 15 on 4 of 9 shooting from the floor.

Murray State, 14-6, used a 10-0 run over the next 1:44 to take a 20-15 lead. The Racers capitalized on 13 first-half turnovers by the Cougars and led 30-29 at the break.

"Turnovers killed us," Forrester said. "Especially 13 of them in the first half."

SIUE stayed close in the second half, even pulling ahead on a layup by Bundalo that made it 46-45 with 11:15 to play. The Cougars pushed the lead to 50-45 when Wickware hit one of two free throws with 10:11 to play.

Another 10-0 run by the Racers put Murray back up by five at 55-50. The Racers wouldn't trail again in the game. SIUE did manage to tie the score at 58 when Kevin Stineman picked off a rebound after a missed shot, drove the length of the floor, and finished with a layup. Stineman chipped-in nine points in the loss.

The Racers were helped by three late turnovers by SIUE to outscore the Cougars 9-3 over the final 3:53 of the game.

"I thought our guys did a great job fighting most of the night," Forrester said. "When it came to crunch time, we turned the ball over two many times down the stretch."

B.J. Jenkins led the Racers with 14 points. Isacc Miles and Isaiah Canaan each had 10. Ed Daniel pulled in 14 rebounds for Murray State, who edged the Cougars on the boards 38-36.

The Cougars remain home to host Division III Greenville College Saturday night at the Vadalabene Center. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.

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