Release: December 30, 2010
MOREHEAD, Ky. -- Senior center Kenneth Faried poured in 23 points and 12 rebounds to help host Morehead State (8-6) stave off Binghamton (3-9) 80-74 Thursday night from Johnson Arena. The win, MSU's 21st straight at home, wasn't secured until a controversial double-dribble call denied the Bearcats a chance to tie or win in the final 13 seconds.
With NBA prospect Faried dominating the post, Morehead jumped out to a 10-point halftime lead and the Eagles led 70-59 with 6:09 left before BU mounted a rally. A 15-6 run brought the Bearcats to within two, 76-74, with 0:56 left. Sparking the run was senior guard Chretien Lukusa, who despite nursing a sore ankle, played a gutsy game with 12 points, including a big three-pointer from the left corner to bring BU to within two with 56 seconds left.
On the ensuing possession, senior forward Mahamoud Jabbi tied up a Morehead State player with 0:23 left and the possession arrow went to Binghamton. But with Lukusa operating in tight quarters with 0:13 left, an MSU player reached in and appeared to deflect the ball. When Lukusa continued the dribble, he was whistled for the turnover. After an intentional foul, the Eagles sank both free throws and sealed the win with a steal and two more free throws with six seconds left. The Bearcats had four turnovers in the final 3:37, including three in the game's final 13 seconds.
"It was a great finish ... just a tough call at the end," head coach Mark Macon said. "We kept a good team at bay and played well. You have to appreciate the way our guys came out and played tonight. Chretien (Lukusa) played very tough on a hurt ankle and swollen knee. He came up with some critical plays for us at the end. I liked how we kept attacking them. But we still can't commit turnovers down the stretch the way we did. Our guys showed resiliency though. We fought hard in the second half and almost got the win."
Senior leading scorer Greer Wright was BU's leading scorer with 22 points on 7-of-10 shooting. He added six rebounds and four assists. Jabbi chipped in 15 points and two steals and sophomore forward Taylor Johnston added 10 points.
Morehead State shot 57% and put four players in double figures, led by Faried's 23. The 6-foot-8 center leads the nation in rebounding and double-doubles and is the Ohio Valley Conference Preseason Player of the Year.
Binghamton shot a season-best 53% (first time over 50%), including a precise 62% in the second half. They drained nine three-pointers and made 17-of-20 free throws. The equalizers were the Eagles' plus 10 rebound margin and BU's 14 turnovers.
The Bearcats jumped out of the gate with a 10-4 run and BU led 22-14 with 11:17 to play in the first half. But an ensuing 19-2 MSU run (spanning 9:58) gave the hosts a double-digit margin, which they held at the break (40-30). Morehead State shot 57% and owned a 21-6 rebound margin at halftime.
But the Bearcats hung around and after tightening up the rebound differential (13-8 in second half) and pinning some fouls on the MSU starting five, trimmed the margin to single digits. Wright tallied 14 of his points and Johnston had all 10 of his points in the second half.
The Bearcats fly into Philadelphia on New Year's Eve and will face La Salle Sunday afternoon in the team's final non-conference game of the 2010-11 season.
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