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Cougars Fall at Morehead State

Burak Eslik shoots a free throw
Burak Eslik shoots a free throw

MOREHEAD, Ky. – Morehead State outlasted SIUE men's basketball 73-65 Saturday, sending the Cougars to their third consecutive loss.

The Cougars are 5-12 overall and 0-3 in the Ohio Valley Conference. Morehead State has won three of its last four games and is 6-10 overall and 2-1 in the OVC.

SIUE opened an early lead and stretched the advantage to nine (16-7) after a free throw by Carlos Anderson with 13:31 to play in the half. The Eagles then went on a 12-1 run to take a 19-17 lead.

"We started turning the ball over, they made a little run at us," SIUE Head Coach Jon Harris said.

After trading leads several more times, SIUE scored the final six points of the half and carried a 36-31 lead into halftime. The Cougars shot 50 percent (12-24) from the field in the half.

SIUE extended its lead to 37-31 on a Jalen Henry free throw just 30 seconds into the second period, but Morehead State had another double-digit run in it. A three-pointer from Xavier Moon with 17:31 to play capped a 10-point run which put MSU in the lead for good. The Cougars never got any closer than two points the rest of the game.

For the game, SIUE was 20-50 (40 percent) from the field after hitting just 8 of 26 shots in the second half. The Cougars were 21-33 at the free thow line and turned the ball over 22 times leading to 19 points for Morehead State.

"You can't turn the ball over 20-plus times on the road and expect to win a game," Harris said. "We need to slow ourselves down on our free throws and we have to have better ball control."

Burak Eslik scored 20 points to lead the way offensively. He 7-14 from the field and hit two three-pointers. Henry scored 18 points. He was 7-12 and also hit two three-pointers.

The Cougars outrebounded the Eagles 39-27. SIUE limited Morehead State to just six second-chance points.

"Our guys battled," Harris said of the rebounding edge. "Morehead is a tremendous rebounding team. We held them to six offensive rebounds and they are averaging almost 15 a game."

Moon and Jordan Walker each scored 16 points to lead Morehead State. The Eagles shot 49 percent (27-55) from the field for the game.

"We still gave up too many points in the paint," Harris said. "We did a better job, but we still have to continue to grow in that area."

The Cougars return home for a pair of OVC games Thursday and Saturday.

"We'll come back and hit it hard Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday," Harris said. "We have to clean up our turnovers. Guys have to get in the gym and shoot their free throws. We have good offensive players; good free throw shooters. We're just not making them right now."

Austin Peay comes to Vadalabene Center for an 8 p.m. contest Thursday. The game will be nationally televised on CBS Sports Network.

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