Screaming Eagles upset Morehead State, 80-73 Hernandez scores 28 in the win


MOREHEAD, Ky. – University of Southern Indiana Men’s Basketball shocked Morehead State University with an 80-73 victory Tuesday evening in Morehead, Kentucky. The Screaming Eagles rise to 8-20 overall and 5-10 in OVC play, while the MSU Eagles are 20-8 overall, 11-4 OVC.
With the win, USI takes command of eighth in the OVC standings. The Screaming Eagles are a half-game ahead of ninth-place Tennessee Tech University and only two games back of seventh-place Eastern Illinois University. USI has three games remaining in 2023-24, while TTU and EIU have four contests left in the regular season.
The top eight teams at the end of OVC play advance to the league tournament March 6-9 at the Ford Center in Evansville.
USI and MSU battled back and forth through the first 10 minutes before the MSU Eagles used an 8-0 run to lead 23-16. The Screaming Eagles would close the gap to one point, 26-25, with an 8-3 surge before going into the intermission trailing by one 31-30. Overall in the first 20 minutes, the game feature six lead changes and three times.
USI junior forward Jack Mielke (Downers Grove, Illinois) led the way for the Eagles in the opening half with 13 points that include four three-point buckets.
In the second half, USI quickly jumped out to a six-point lead, 39-33, with a 9-2 run. The Screaming Eagles ran the lead to eight points, 47-39, on a three-pointer by junior guard Jeremiah Hernandez (Chicago, Illinois).
MSU bounced back with a 11-3 rally to tie the score for the fourth time in the game, 50-50. Mielke and sophomore guard Ryan Hall (Kettering, Ohio) grabbed the momentum back for USI with back-to-back three-point bombs, igniting a 10-1 run to get the Screaming Eagles back in control 60-51 with 7:21 to play.
USI had to withstand another MSU Eagle rally as they cut the Screaming Eagles’ advantage to two, 72-70, with 1:10 left. Hernandez put USI back up four, 74-70, with a bucket with 45 seconds to play before MSU got back to within two with 35 seconds left, 74-72.
USI sophomore guard/forward AJ Smith (Edwardsville, Illinois) sealed the USI victory with four-straight free throws put the Screaming Eagles back in control the 78-72. USI junior guard Sam Mervis (Indianapolis, Indiana) capped off the scoring for the Screaming Eagles with two charity shots before a final MSU free throw in the 80-73 victory.
Overall, USI outshot MSU, 49.1 percent (26-53) to 45.1 percent (23-51), and outrebounded the MSU Eagles, 34-23. The Screaming Eagles also were a blistering 19-of 20 from the stripe (95 percent), converting eight-straight trips to the line in the final five minutes.
Individually, Hernandez led the Screaming Eagles with a game-high 28 points and is averaging 29 points per game versus MSU this season (the junior guard scored 30 versus MSU in the first meeting in January). He was 10-of-17 from the field, including a pair of three-pointers, and six-of-seven from the stripe.
Smith followed with 18 points and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds, while Mielke added three points in the second half and finished with 16.