EVANSVILLE, Ind. (EKU Sports) – Eastern Kentucky suffered a 60-50 loss to No. 1 seed Belmont in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament semifinals on Friday at the Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana.
The fourth seeded Colonels (16-17, 12-6 OVC) cut a 9-point halftime deficit to seven twice early in the second half, but could not hit enough shots to get closer. Tre King’s jumper with 16:35 showing on the clock made it a 34-27 game, but the Bruins scored the next seven points to double their lead. Ben Sheppard’s lay-up at the 13:54 mark stretched the margin to 14, 41-27.
Eastern Kentucky’s defense gave the squad one more chance to get back in the game. After Seth Adelsperger’s lay-up with 13 minutes remaining put the Belmont lead back to 14, the Bruins went nearly four minutes without scoring again. The Colonels scored just five points during that time. Lachlan Anderson’s old-fashioned three-point play cut it to nine, 43-34. Grayson Murphy’s jumper at the 9:10 mark ended the Belmont drought and the top seed led by double figures the rest of the way.
EKU held the Bruins (25-7, 15-3 OVC) to their second-lowest field goal percentage of the season, 34 percent, including just 7-of-30 (23 percent) from behind the arc. However, the Colonels managed to hit on just 30 percent from the field and went 5-for-12 at the free throw line.
Russhard Cruickshank had a team-high 15 points for Eastern Kentucky. He hit on 4-of-6 from long range. Jomaru Brown scored 12 points and hauled in nine rebounds.
Eastern turned 14 offensive rebounds into 20 second-chance points and out-scored Belmont 16-13 in points off turnovers.
Adam Kunkel led the Bruins with 15 points. Murphy scored 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds.