EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – Despite enjoying one its most efficient offensive nights, SIUE men's basketball dropped a 70-64 decision to Murray State Thursday in Ohio Valley Conference action at Vadalabene Center.
The Cougars have lost six straight and fell to 4-20 overall and 1-11 in OVC play. Murray State improved to 13-12 overall and 7-5 in the OVC.
SIUE shot a season-best 55.1 percent (27-49) from the field for the game, and the Cougars were 13-23 (56.5 percent) from the field in the first half alone.
SIUE got off to a quick start and led 16-13 after a C.J. Carr layup with 10:02 to play in the half. Carr's layup with 4:32 to go before halftime made it 25-23 SIUE when Murray State made a run.
The Racers scored 17 of the final 19 points in the period and carried a 40-27 lead into halftime. The Racers connected on six three three-pointers during the half and three during the run. Justin Seymour hit two triples in the final 1:35 of the half, including one with four seconds left before the break.
Murray State continued its push to start the second half extending the run to 21-2 when Damarcus Croaker's bucket gave Murray State its largest lead of the night at 44-27.
It was a 14-point Racer advantage when SIUE made its own run. Carlos Anderson's jumper with 9:31 left and strong SIUE defense ignited a 16-3 Cougar surge.
"A loss is a loss, but the thing we've got to continue to grow on is our defensive effort, especially in the second half," SIUE Head Coach Jon Harris said. "We have to find a way to bottle that up and take it on the road with us the rest of the way."
Carr punctuated the run with a three-pointer at 4:37 to bring SIUE within one at 56-55.
"They brought the fight to us in the first half," Harris said. "In the second half, we had a change in mindset. That was the difference in the game."
Murray State was able to pull back in front and then use 10 free throws over the game's final 2:13 to salt away the win.
The Cougars outscored Murray State 40-30 in the paint and turned 17 Racer turnovers into 25 points.
"I can't say enough about this group and how they continue to come and work every day, which isn't easy especially when things don't go your way," Harris added. "This is a special group of guys who continue to respond."
Wayne Langston led the Racers with 24 points. He was 8 of 15 from the field and 8 for 8 at the free throw line. Bryce Jones scored 17 points, and Seymour added 14 points.
SIUE next travels to Charleston, Illinois, for a Saturday game at Eastern Illinois. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.