In this era of knee-jerk reactions there will be plenty who attempt to say that Steve Prohm’s Murray State Racers showed that they belonged on the national stage.
But while their effort in a 62-53 loss to 3-seed Marquette didn’t hurt the argument, it should be understood that the Racers belonged well before today’s thrilling contest despite the coach’s comments after the game.
“I think also we proved today that we belong, and we belonged on a national stage,” stated Prohm. “We just weren’t good enough the last seven minutes.”
That’s what it came down to. Seven (7:43) minutes. Marquette outscored the Racers 21-7 to finish the game, not allowing All-America point guard Isaiah Canaan much in the way of freedom offensively.
The same went for Donte Poole, who made 3 of 13 shots and Ivan Aska had a similar stat line. But both Aska and Ed Daniel were a handful on the glass, combining to grab 24 rebounds on the afternoon.
Murray State ran through the Ohio Valley Conference, winning 15 of their 16 regular season games and then winning three straight in Nashville to win the league’s automatic bid, and their senior class departs as the most successful in school history.
Aska, Poole and Jewuan Long leave a legacy that’s about more than just one season, and it didn’t need “seven minutes” to be validated either.
“I told them in the locker room the programs that I want to be a part of, the programs that I want to lead,” said Prohm of his post-game message.
“I want them to have the intangibles, I want them to have the characteristics, I want them to have the integrity of these three men right here, Donte, Jewuan, and Ivan.”
Two NCAA appearances in the last three seasons with both ending mere steps away from the school’s first Sweet 16 appearance is quite the achievement for the senior class, and that should not be forgotten.
Seven minutes may have been Murray State’s downfall today, but the work they’d done to reach that point shows illustrated the fact that the Racers had proven their worth already.