The victory improves the Cowboys to a 22-8 season mark and 9-7 Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference record and the No. 4 seed in the Region II Men's Basketball Tournament at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee next week. Connors will play Seminole State, the No 5 seed, who lost to Northern Tonkawa, 86-80 on Thursday at a time yet to be determined.
Leading by as many as 21 points in the opening half, only to hold a 10-point margin at the half, 39-29, Tanksley (25) and Haydon (23) sparked the Cowboys scoring in the final 20 minutes of play.
"We let them get back into the game just before the half, but it's hard to maintain a big lead consistently against a good team," said Coach Bill Muse.
"I knew they were going to make a run at us. We had a 10-point lead at the half, and then went down one. But we were resilient enough to come back and go up by 18 points.
"I am very happy for the sophomores, especially Callen, who came back off a foot injury. Tanksley also has put together a really solid game.
"That's the kind of stuff we need going into the Region Tournament. I thought all our guys played well. (Isiah) Francis made a couple of big baskets late.
"I just think we played a good overall game. We defended and rebounded well," said Muse.
The 22nd-ranked Aggies are now 22-6 on the year 13-3 in league play, rallied to take a 49-48 lead with 12:04 remaining in the game.
Jahcoree Ealy converted one-of-two at the free throw line to tie it at 49-all. Murray regained the lead at 51-49, before Haydon tied it again at 51-51 with 11:46 left.
Ealy then put CSC back on top 52-51 at the 10:27 mark by connecting on one-of-two at the charity stripe.
Jarquavious Cain and Tanksley each scored a bucket to put Connors on top by five, 56-51 with 9:25 left.
It was all Cowboys the rest of the night, as Murray came closer than three points the rest of the contest as CSC's defense thwarted the Aggies' attack.
Connors stretched its lead to 13 points, 66-53 with 6:09 left, with the Cowboys scoring 10 unanswered points.
The Cowboys steadily increased its lead to 18 points 79-61 with one-minute to play, their largest of the second half.
Jerry Carraway led the Aggies scoring with 18 points with Shem' Mario Stephens and Jaylan Thomas scoring 14 and 13 points respectively.
CONNORS STATE 81, MURRAY STATE 65
Murray State 29 36-65
Connors State 39 42--81
Murray State (22-6, 13-3)—Caraway 18, Stephens 14, Thomas 13, Guest 7, Guidry 6, Garrett 5, Brister 2.
Connors State (22-8, 9-7)--Tanksley 25, Haydon 23, Cain 10, Ealy 8, Francis 7, Riggs 5, Graham 3.