LOUISVILLE – Murray State head coach Steve Prohm was pretty much at a loss to explain what happened to his Racers during the last seven minutes of Saturday’s third round game against Marquette in the Men’s NCAA Division I Tournament at the KFC Yum! Center.
The No. 6 seeded Racers were up 46-41, fresh off an 8-0 run with 7:36 to go, and had the packed house roaring, including the large number of University of Kentucky fans on hand.
But Marquette’s third-seeded Golden Eagles slammed the door at that point, outscoring Murray 21-7 the rest of the way to advance to the West Region Sweet Sixteen next weekend in Phoenix.
“I wish I could have figured out a way to get them through the last seven minutes,” said Prohm, who led his team to a 27-7 record in his first season at the MSU helm. “I don’t know. We were up five at the seven-minute media break. I felt really good. The players felt really good.
“I don’t think we wore down,” he added. “I mean, we have a tough group. We just didn’t finish some plays on the offensive end that we had to in order to withstand some of their run-outs and some of their offensive execution. I think that was the big key.”
Senior forward Jae Crowder of Marquette was a load for the Racers to deal with all game long, leading the Golden Eagles with 17 points and 13 rebounds.
Senior guard Darius Johnson-Odom added 17 points, and sophomore forward Jamil Wilson had seven rebounds to round out the Marquette leaders.
Junior point guard Isaiah Canaan led Murray State with 16 points and six rebounds. Senior guard Jewuan Long added 12 points; senior forward Ivan Aska had seven points and 10 rebounds, and junior forward Ed Daniel had six points and 14 rebounds to lead the Racers.
Murray State out-rebounded Marquette 43-36.
The Golden Eagles hit 21 of 55 from the field for 38.2 percent, and were 16 of 21 at the free throw line for 76.2 percent.
Murray was 20 of 64 from the field for just 31.3 percent and shot just 10 free throws, hitting nine of them.
The Racers had seven assists against 16 turnovers. Marquette had 11 assists and 12 turnovers.
Prohm was a model of pride and class after the loss.
“We really appreciate all the support from all the fans, from Murray and from the state of Kentucky,” Prohm said. “They really came out and supported us this weekend. It’s been a tremendous experience.
“And, finally, I want to say how proud I am of our 14 players, of our program, of our university, and especially our three seniors, Donte (Poole), Ivan (Aska) and Jewuan (Long),” Prohm added. “They leave Murray as the winningest class in the history of the school.
“I think,” Prohm said at last, “we proved today that we belong on the national stage.”