MOREHEAD, Ky. – Despite a defensive effort that caused 34 turnovers and produced 13 steals, the Morehead State Women's Basketball team fell to Stetson, 58-55, in the opening game of the Eagle Invitational Presented by Downtown BP of Morehead at Johnson Arena on Friday evening.
The loss, which drops the Eagles to 0-2 overall for the 2019-20 season, was not taken without a valiant comeback effort from the hosts which held the Hatters without a field-goal make during the final 3:10 of the game and erased a seven-point deficit with under two minutes remaining.
Trailing 54-47 with 1:39 to go, Morehead State senior guard Breuna Jackson kick-started the late rally with a three-point bullseye. The Eagles defense then forced a Stetson miss which led to freshman guard Tomiyah Alford being fouled on a shot attempt in the paint which turned into two points from the charity stripe and cut the deficit to 54-52 with 1:02 remaining.
Stetson forward Maddie Novak moved the visitor's advantage back to two possessions after converting bonus shots from the foul stripe with 27 seconds on the clock. Following the Novak makes, Morehead State called a timeout and advanced the ball to mid-court where junior Lakeita Chappel triggered the ball inbounds off an inbounds play which opened up sophomore Ellie Jo Johnson to sink a triple from the top of the arc and pull the game within a point at 56-55 with 25 seconds left.
On the following possession, freshman Mackenzie Schwarber swiped her third steal of the game with 18 seconds left to get the ball back for the Eagles. As the clock ticked under five seconds, Alford found separation on the baseline for a go-ahead jumper which missed off the iron and was rebounded by Hatters' forward Kennedi Colclough who was immediately fouled and made bonus shots with three seconds remaining. The Eagles were unable to get an equalizing shot attempt up as an inbounding violation cut their comeback bid short.
Statistically, Stetson hit on 21-of-42 (.500) field goal attempts which included a 5-of-13 (.385) showing from beyond the arc. Morehead State's conversely saw just 18-of-62 (.290) shot attempts while going 5-of-23 (.217) from three. On the glass, MSU grabbed 14 offensive rebounds but lost the overall battle on the boards 41-27.
Johnson led the Eagles in scoring with 13 points and a 4-of-5 effort from the charity stripe. The South Webster, Ohio, native has led MSU's scoring efforts in each game played this season.
Overall, Morehead State had nine different players log points in the game.
Defensively, the 34 forced turnovers by the Eagles set a new program benchmark under the sixth-year head coach Greg Todd. Alford, a 5-10 guard from Barnesville, Ga., snatched a game-high five steals.
Stetson moves their record to 2-1 overall with the win. Forward Day'Neshia Banks led the Hatters with a double-double of 17 points and 12 rebounds.
Stetson will finish its play in the Eagle Invitational on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. ET with a matchup against Saint Francis (Pa.).
Morehead State will play its second-of-three games in five days on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. with a meeting against Saint Francis. During their 2018-19 campaign, the Eagles fell to the Red Flash in an 89-83 shootout at DeGol Arena in Loretto, Pa.