WARNER—Connors State holding an 11-point lead with 9:05 remaining in the second half, fought off a furious Murray State rally in the final 1:46 to capture a 62-58 Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference victory Thursday night at Melvin Self Field House.
"It all goes back to try and learn," said Cowboys head Coach Bill Muse. "When we had the other lineup, we started on Oct. 1st for 40 days and then we came back from Christmas we had five days to get ready.
"So it's going to take another month to start playing the proper way. We are going to have to grid out every game, hopefully win every game and get ready for the region tournament," said Muse.
Murray tied the game at 52-all with 2:54 remaining when the Cowboys reeled-off six unanswered points for a six-point advantage at the 1:46 mark. The Aggies cut the margin to 58-54 on a bucket by Lloyd Daniels, before the Cowboys' Tyress Sidberry scored with 26 seconds left.
Murrays' Adam Cauro and Shemmarkio Stephens countered with a free throw and basket to make it a 60-58 game with 12.2 seconds remaining.
Connors' Callen Haydon, who was fouled by the Aggies Daniels with 8.9 ticks on the clock, calmly drained his only two free throw attempts of the game to ice the victory, as the Aggies were unable to get a shot off at the buzzer.
"Callen (Haydon) hit some big free throws there at the end,"said Muse.
Muse also praised the play of Caleb Riggs who came off the bench and hit two big shots late in the game. "If he doesn't score, it could have been a different outcome.
"And, Burke (Putnam) played outstanding. He led us with 21 points." He was followed by Haydon's 12 points and Terrance Jones' 10.
Muse was also happy with the defensive play of his club. "Murray usually drains 12 shots from behind the arc but we held them to four. So I was very pleased with our defensive effort," said Muse.
The Cowboys, who improved to 15-4 on the season and 4-2 in conference play, will return to OCAC play next Thursday night (Jan. 24th) at Melvin Self Field House for a 7:30 p.m. encounter with Western Oklahoma State College.
CONNORS STATE 62 MURRAY STATE 58S
Murray State 26 32—58
Connors State 33 29—62
Murray State (5-13, 2-3)—Stephens 21, Daniels 17, Henderson 8, McLeish 5, Gouro 4, Webb 3.
Connors State (15-4, 4s-2)—Putnam 21, Haydon 12, Jones 10, Tanksley 6, Sidberry 5, Riggs 5, I. Jones 3.