DAYTON, Ohio — The power of athletics is far-reaching.
Morehead State University, absent from the NCAA Tournament for the past 25 years, made enough of a national splash with its play-in victory on Tuesday that it’s practically a household name.
“This is big time,” said MSU President Dr. Wayne Andrews. “We had a huge crowd there Tuesday (in the play-in game, a 58-43 victory over Alabama State). They were estimating 4,000 to 5,000. We have so many alumni in Ohio.”
And so many fans everywhere.
Even though Morehead State’s stay in the tournament ended on Friday with a loss to Louisville at the University of Dayton Arena, the benefits from the trip will be reaped for a long time, Andrews said.
“It makes people swell with pride,” he said. “It provides us with coverage we couldn’t buy. We couldn’t afford it.”
Andrews was all smiles before the game. He was excited about what was ahead for Morehead.
“We’ve got one senior, Leon Buchanan, and everybody else is coming back,” he said. “We can expect to have a big season.”
Morehead finished 20-16, becoming only the third team in school history to win 20 games. That was one of the benefits of the play-in game.
While some may have considered it a negative, Andrews said Morehead State made it a positive in all ways.
“We didn’t see any of the negatives,” he said. “We got an extra share (from the play-in game) and a share from the first round. We were only the game on television (Tuesday). All of those were positives.”
Especially after getting the victory, the first in a tournament since a play-in win over North Carolina A&T; in 1984.
Leon Buchanan, the only senior on Morehead’s roster, finished with 17 points and four rebounds.
“I tried to play as hard as I can for as long as I could,” he said. “I’m a senior. I knew it could be my last college basketball game.”
Kenneth Faried, the jumping-jack sophomore, had 14 points and 11 rebounds for his 25th double-double of the season. He’s already No. 12 on MSU’s all-time rebounding list.
Maze Stallworth of Elizabethtown, had 14 points and made 4-of-8 attempts from 3-point range.
Morehead State trailed only 35-33 at halftime against Louisville and actually led on three separate occasions in the first half. Steve Peterson, the freshman who had the dramatic shot to beat Austin Peay in the OVC tournament, put the Eagles ahead for the first time at 24-22.
Like in the Austin Peay game, it was Peterson’s only basket of the game.
“Our kids played extremely hard when we were fresh,” said coach DonnieTyndall. “We were playing them possession-for-possession.
“It was a great season for our team. We brought back some pride and passion to Morehead State University basketball. Unfortunately, we ran into the best team in college basketball tonight.”
Morehead’s last NCAA tournament appearance also ended with a loss to Louisville in 1984. The Cardinals, with Jeff Hall on the roster, defeated the Eagles 72-59. Ashland’s Jeff Tipton was an all-OVC center that year.
‘Please stay seated’
The public address announcer at the arena made repeated quests to fans to remain seated during the game.
Tickets for the night session were $66 apiece. That should allow you to stand on your head and cheer if you want.
MARK MAYNARD can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2648.
DAYTON, Ohio — The power of athletics is far-reaching.
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