Aggie men’s basketball win three-straight to secure Region II Tournament Championship
March 09, 2020
The Murray State College Men’s Basketball Team entered their regional tournament, March 5, with 22 wins and only six losses overall and 13-and-three in regional play. The Aggies, who rode a 13-game winning streak into the last two weeks of the season, faced Arkansas Baptist College in their first game of the tournament. This was the Aggies first-ever game against the Buffaloes, who had knocked off Redlands Community College in the tournament’s play-in game earlier in the week. The Aggie offense dominated the first half of the game, outscoring the Buffaloes by 23 points and holding their offense to just 29 points going into halftime. Due to an early lead, the Aggies took their foot off the pedal slightly in the second half, allowing much of their bench to get quality playing time. In total, 11 Aggies scored in the game, led by freshman Dyson Plumley with 16 points and sophomore Shem’mario Stephens and redshirt freshman Cedric Garrett with 13 points each, as the Aggies cruised to an 82-62 victory over Arkansas Baptist.
The Aggie win set up a semifinal match on March 6 with NOC-Tonkawa which was ranked #7 in the nation and averaged over 93 points per game. The Mavericks and Aggies had each defeated the other at home during regular season play this season. After a slow start in the semifinal game, the Aggies fell behind early but were able to string together several offensive runs to pull within nine points at halftime. Murray State built on that momentum in the second half and were able to cut into the Maverick lead before tying the game at 65 with three minutes remaining. The Aggies took a two-point lead with just over two minutes left and held off the Mavericks late to secure a 79-72 victory and move on to the tournament championship game. Plumley led the Aggies with 24 points, freshman Jerry Carraway had 14 points, including four three pointers, and Garrett added 13 points.
In the tournament championship, the Aggies faced a tough Northeastern Oklahoma A&M team that came into the game as the tournament’s #1 seed and defending Region II champion. A low-scoring game throughout, the teams battled for each point with the Aggies pulling away to claim a five-point, 27-22, lead at halftime. The second half remained a battle of defenses with the Norsemen leading several scoring runs to slowly cut into the Aggie lead. The Aggie defense held strong late to pull out a 58-55 victory and walk away as Region II Tournament Champions. Plumley, who led the Aggies with 18 points in the championship game, was named the Region II Tournament Most Valuable Player and Garrett, who contributed nine points and five rebounds in the championship game, was named to the All-Tournament Team.
The win punches the Aggies’ ticket to the NJCAA Division I National Tournament which takes place March 16-21, 2020 at Hutchinson Sports Arena in Hutchinson, Kansas. During the nationally televised NJCAA Division I Tournament Selection Show on Monday, March 9, the Aggies were selected as the #14 Seed overall and will take on #19 seeded Cowley College at 10 a.m. on Tuesday March 17, 2020.The Aggies’ history-making season marked the team’s best overall and conference records and most regular season games won in recent history. The Aggies were also ranked in national NJCAA Division I polls for the first time in program history, rising as high as 10th place. Further accolades came at the end of the regular season with Head Coach Kevin O’Connor being named NJCAA Region II Coach of the Year and sophomore Shem’mario Stephens and freshman Dyson Plumley receiving All-Region Team honors.