By Derek Harper | @RealDerekHarper
Sports Capital Journalism Program
INDIANAPOLIS — The seventh-seeded Murray State Racers slipped by No. 10-seed San Francisco Dons, 92-87, in an overtime game Thursday night that ended at 12:43 a.m. Friday.
Murray State (31-2), which extended its winning streak to 21 games, advanced to a second-round East Region game against St. Peter’s on Saturday evening.
The Racers, in their fifth second-round appearance, have a chance to reach a regional semifinal game for the first time in school history. Murray State’s NCAA tournament record improved to 5-13.
Junior forward KJ Williams led the way for Murray State with 18 points on 8-of-14 shooting, with seven rebounds. Sophomore guard Trae Hannibal also scored 18 points, with six rebounds. Junior guard Tevin Brown added 17 points on 5-of-13 shooting, with eight boards.
“He’s done that for us a lot this year,” Murray State coach Matt McMahon said of Hannibal. “We talk about him all the time. He’s a middle linebacker out there playing guard for us. He’s really been a Swiss Army knife-type player….I thought his ability to get to the basket and finish plays was just huge for us tonight. He was really good on the glass, and I believe at first glance I believe he drew seven fouls just with his ability to attack the basket. He’s a warrior and really stepped forward when we needed him most tonight.”
San Francisco (24-10) made its first NCAA appearance since 1998. The Dons have not advanced in the tournament since 1979. USF was led by graduate guard Jamaree Bouyea, who scored a career-high 36 points on 13-of-26 shooting. His 3-point shot with 18 seconds left in the second half tied the game at 73-73. “Trying to leave it all out there, no regrets,” Bouyea said. “We needed buckets and stops and I was trying to put the ball in the basket which I did.”
San Francisco coach Todd Golden explained how Bouyea had the option to go pro last year, but chose to return for his graduate season.
“Jamaree’s story is special,” Golden said. “I think he was tasked with a tough question after last season, you know, do I come back or do I go play pro? And he would have found a good home if he decided to do that. He decided to come back, and he believed not only in the program but in his teammates and in the direction that we were headed.
“You know, it’s unfortunate because we lost,” Golden continued, “but for him to have 36 points on a national stage, and he was absolutely unstoppable in the second half. They had no answer for him. I’m just incredibly proud of him to be honest. I’m just glad that on the national setting that people got to see him, because he’s been doing this all year for us.”
One key aspect that hurt San Francisco was the notable lack of offense from their second-leading scorer, senior guard Khalil Shabazz. He was held to three points, 11 beneath his average.
“Twenty points a game over the last eight or so, and just didn’t shoot the ball well tonight, and it can happen,” Golden said. “I’m disappointed for him because I know how much he cares and how much this moment meant to him.”