Eastern Illinois ended Murray State's four year reign in the Ohio Valley Conference's West Division with an 85 to 74 victory at Lantz Arena. The Panthers led 44-32 at half time and held on for the win. Murray State (15-13, 9-6) had won every Western Division title since the OVC moved to divisional play four years ago.
Senior Trae Anderson, playing in his final home game, led the Panthers with 22 points, and junior Demetrius McReynolds continued his torrid scoring pace netting 16 points and grabbing nine rebounds. McReynolds was last week's OVC newcomer of the week. The Louisville, Kentucky native is averaging 18 points per game over his last three contests.
Sophomore point guard Cornell Johnston scored 11 points and handed out nine assists as the Panthers improved to 13-16 and 9-7 in the OVC. Freshman Patrick Muldoon recorded a season high 13 points for the Panthers who made 58% of their shots. EIU outscored Murray 36-7 in bench points. Fellow freshman Casey Teson scored 13.
Murray State finishes the season with a Saturday home game against UT-Martin and could technically tie for the top spot in the West, but the Skyhawks would take the crown on the basis of tie-breakers. Each division winner receives a double bye in to the conference tournament's semi-final round. Belmont won the East Division title Thursday night as losses by Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech ended their chances to tie the Bruins.
The loss snapped the Racers three game winning streak.
EIU will be the seven seed in next weekend's conference tournament.
Murray State's Damarcus Croaker led all scorers with 26 points. Bryce Jones (14) and Jeffery Moss (12) reached double figures for the Racers who will likely finish with a five or six seed in next weekend's Music City Madness. Moss' 12 points moved him into 20th on the all time Racers' scoring list with 1,347.