HARRISBURG — Murphysboro kept pace atop of the SIRR Ohio by holding off Harrisburg, 42-39, Saturday evening at Davenport Gym.
The win was also the ninth straight for the Red Devils against Harrisburg.
“Even if you don’t have a good offensive night, you’re playing defense, and that’s been our Achilles’ heel all year,” said Murphysboro coach Daryl Murphy. “We haven’t been a great defensive team, but the last four or five games, I think we’ve been awful good.”
Jordan Gould’s full court heave as time expired bounced off the backboard as the upset effort for the Bulldogs fell short.
Isaiah Saulsberry brought Harrisburg to within 40-39 with 24.9 seconds left.
Murphysboro’s Jaron Gaston then knocked down both free throws to extend his club’s lead.
The Red Devils (18-5, 7-1) connected on 6-of-9 charity tosses while Harrisburg shot just 1-of-7 from the foul line.
“I’m very happy with our performance tonight,” said Harrisburg coach Randy Smithpeters. “We knew this was a game where we could come out and play well and still lose. I thought we did about everything we could do. Our goal was with two minutes to go, have a chance to win. We are at 20 seconds to go and had a chance to win.”
Murphysboro led 35-28 entering the final quarter and held Harrisburg scoreless for over three minutes to begin the fourth.
Jeremy House nailed three triples for Murphysboro to pace his club with 15 points while Gaston and Tim Marston were each in double figures with 10.
Saulsberry finished with 17 points for Harrisburg. Junior Carson Burtis added eight.
Murphysboro led 10-6 after the first quarter and continued to find itself in front for the rest of the first half. Gaston's offensive rebound jumper beat the second quarter horn which extended the Murphysboro lead to 23-19 at intermission.
“I thought we defended well, and they (Murphysboro) are a very physical team,” said Smithpeters. “We have to really work at being physical, and I think tonight maybe made us more physical, which we want to get better.”