Anemic second-half shooting and turnovers -- eight in each half -- proved to be the difference on Wednesday, as Murray State fell 63-53 to the Missouri Valley's Drake Bulldogs in the fifth-place game of the Gulf Coast Showcase at Hertz Arena in Estero, Florida.
The Racers (4-3) missed their first eight shots to start the second half and shot 5-for-28 from the floor and 1-for-12 from the arc in the game's final 20 minutes.
MSU's top three scorers coming into the game -- sophomore Tevin Brown (15 points, six rebounds), sophomore KJ Williams (nine points, eight rebounds) and senior Jaiveon Eaves (six points) -- went a combined 11-for-39 from the floor.
The Bulldogs (6-2) didn't fare much better in the second half, shooting just 9-for-27 from the field after halftime.
But Drake turned Racer mistakes into 20 points, including nine such points in the second half.
"I thought the first half was played at a high level by both teams," noted MSU fifth-year coach Matt McMahon on the Froggy 103.7 FM postgame show. "I thought the offensive execution and efficiency by both teams was outstanding.
"Second half, we defended well enough to win ... I mean, we held them to 33% from the floor, 27 points. Just couldn't score. Couldn't score. I've got to find a way to get us into some better positions offensively.
"I thought Drake made some nice adjustments at the half, and really turned us into a 1-on-1 team, and that's really not the strength of our team right now. They forced our bigs out off of the block, and we couldn't get any easy touches in the post like we were able to get in the first half. And we have to give them a lot of credit."
MSU trailed 18-10 after the game's second media timeout when DaQuan Smith (seven points, three rebounds, three assists) came off the bench and helped orchestrate a 9-0 run, capped by his lead-grabbing triple.
Neither team held more than a four-point lead the rest of the half, and a tough layup from Eaves, followed with a free throw from Brown, tied the game at 36 just before going into the locker room.
Cowart doesn't play
Less than 24 hours removed from an inadvertent knee tweak in the first-half of Tuesday's 69-68 win over Weber State, MSU senior center Darnell Cowart didn't play on Wednesday against the Bulldogs.
A bigger load in the paint could've helped the Racers, too, who were outscored down low 28-24 and held to just 13-for-33 from inside the arc.
Freshman Demond Robinson picked up some of his minutes (six), securing four rebounds in his time on the floor.
The Bulldogs weren't spectacular in scoring, but did find balance. Eleven players scored, led by sophomore guard DJ Wilkins (18 points, 5-for-11 shooting), senior guard Anthony Murphy (13 points, 5-for-8 shooting) and senior forward Tremell Murphy (11 points, 5-for-6 shooting).
Drake also managed 7-for-18 shooting from the arc, while the Racers went a chilly 4-for-20 for the second time in three games, with Brown and DaQuan Smith the only ones able to connect from deep.
The 53 points is the Racers' lowest offensive output since scoring 46 in a Dec. 10, 2016, loss at Evansville.
Drake 63, Murray St. 53
DRAKE (6-2) -- Robbins 1-5 0-0 2, T.Murphy 5-6 0-0 11, Wilkins 5-11 4-6 18, A.Murphy 5-8 3-4 13, Penn 0-7 2-3 2, Pilipovic 1-2 0-0 3, Ernst 1-1 1-1 3, Jackson 1-2 0-0 3, Sturtz 2-3 0-1 4, Yesufu 1-2 0-1 2, N.Thomas 1-5 0-0 2. Totals 23-52 10-16 63.
MURRAY ST. (4-3) -- A.Smith 1-2 7-10 9, Williams 3-11 3-4 9, Brown 5-15 2-4 15, Carter 1-3 0-0 2, Eaves 3-13 0-0 6, Robinson 0-1 0-0 0, Gilmore 2-3 1-1 5, Holliday 0-0 0-2 0, D.Smith 2-5 2-2 7. Totals 17-53 15-23 53.
Halftime: 36-36. 3-Point Goals: Drake 7-18 (Wilkins 4-7, T.Murphy 1-1, Pilipovic 1-2, Jackson 1-2, Yesufu 0-1, A.Murphy 0-1, Penn 0-1, N.Thomas 0-3), Murray St. 4-20 (Brown 3-8, D.Smith 1-3, Robinson 0-1, Carter 0-1, Williams 0-3, Eaves 0-4). Fouled Out: D.Smith. Rebounds: Drake 32 (Robbins, Penn 6), Murray St. 35 (A.Smith 9). Assists: Drake 16 (Penn 6), Murray St. 7 (D.Smith 3). Total Fouls: Drake 22, Murray St. 18. A: 653 (7,186).