Morehead State Tops TN Tech In OVC Tourney Opener

Morehead State Tops TN Tech In OVC Tourney Opener

Eagles get 76-61 victory to advance to semifinals vs. Belmont on Friday.
NASHVILLE -- The Morehead State men's basketball team used runs of 13-0 in the first half and 7-0 in the second period en route to a 76-61 win over Tennessee Tech on Thursday evening in the second round of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament at Municipal Auditorium.

The fourth-seeded Eagles, who have won 12 of their last 18 games, improve to 20-12 overall. The fifth-seeded Golden Eagles, who finish the year with victories in seven of their last 10, wrap up at 17-16.

Morehead State runs its record to 78-64 in the all-time series against Tennessee Tech. The Eagles also end up with two wins in three tries against the Golden Eagles after splitting the regular-season series.

Morehead State, which ends a three-game skid, has secured its first 20-win campaign since 2010-11. The Eagles finished that year 25-10 and upset fourth-seeded Louisville in the NCAA Tournament.

"I'm really proud of our players tonight," Head Coach Sean Woods said. "We had great energy at the beginning of both halves. We created some breathing room when it was 20-5 and came out determined in the second half after leading by just five at halftime."

Juniors Angelo Warner and Kareem Storey combined for 40 Morehead State points. Warner tallied 23 on 7-of-14 from the field and 7-of-8 from the free-throw line, while Storey added a career-best 17 on 6-of-11 from the floor and 5-of-8 from the charity stripe.

Warner's double-figure scoring performance was his 29th in 32 games this season and his 58th at Morehead State. The 20-point effort was his 10th this year and his 12th as an Eagle. Storey's scoring outburst was his best in 30 contests at MSU.

Warner added six rebounds, four assists and four steals, while Storey contributed three boards, three helpers and three thefts. Junior Billy Reader was the third Eagle in double figures with 10 points, while sophomore Brent Arrington tossed in nine points.

"I think our team has three terrific guards," Woods said. "We're at our best when we spread the floor and drive to the basket. When that happens, like it did tonight, we score, get to the foul line or make a pass to the open player for a scoring opportunity."

Morehead State posted a 38-32 rebounding advantage, including 14-9 on the offensive end. The Eagles, who pace the conference in total rebounds, offensive boards and rebounding margin, have only been outrebounded once in 32 games this year.

Morehead State registered a 38-20 advantage in paint points, 23-13 upper hand in points off turnovers and 16-7 edge on the fast break. The Eagles forced 22 turnovers and recorded 14 steals. MSU ranks second among OVC schools in both categories.

"Our transition game was big tonight," Woods said. "We like to speed up the opponent, create problems with our defense and get easy baskets off those turnovers. I thought we did a lot of that tonight, especially during our big runs in both halves."

MSU opened up a 20-5 advantage less than seven minutes into the contest, thanks to the big first-half run. Tennessee Tech responded with a 19-6 spurt to trim the deficit to 26-24 with 1:46 before intermission. MSU led by five heading to the locker room.

The Eagles pushed out to their biggest advantage of 18 points on multiple occasions in the second half. After an early tie and two lead changes, Morehead State held the advantage for the final 38:45. MSU maintained a double-figure lead for the final 17:56.

Sophomore Josiah Moore led the Golden Eagles with 18 points off the bench, while junior Dwan Caldwell chipped in with 13 and senior Jeremiah Samarrippas added 10. Caldwell had 29 points last Thursday against MSU.

Morehead State moves into the OVC Tournament semifinals, on Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET, against top-seeded Belmont. The tilt will be televised live by ESPNU. The Bruins won both regular-season meetings.

"My team is excited about the opportunity to keep playing," Woods added. "Belmont won the OVC regular-season title for a reason. They are an outstanding team and we will have to be ready on a quick turnaround."

Single-session tickets in the Morehead State section will be available, beginning at 8:30 a.m. ET, by calling 606-783-2088. Credit-card payments will be accepted, and calls will be returned as soon as possible.
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