Eagles take down Belmont on Senior Day, 89-82

Belmont's Grayson Murphy hit a three-pointer with three seconds left in regulation to force overtime, but Morehead State hit 13 of 14 free throws in the extra period as the Eagle men's basketball team ended the regular season with an 89-82 victory over the Bruins at Johnson Arena Saturday afternoon.

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Courtesy: MSU Athletics

MOREHEAD, Ky. (MSU Athletics) — Belmont’s Grayson Murphy hit a three-pointer with three seconds left in regulation to force overtime, but Morehead State hit 13 of 14 free throws in the extra period as the Eagle men’s basketball team ended the regular season with an 89-82 victory over the Bruins at Johnson Arena Saturday afternoon.

The Eagles finished the regular season at 20-7 and 17-3 in the OVC, just a game behind Belmont (24-3/18-2 OVC). It marks just the eighth 20-win season in program history, while the 17 league triumphs are a school record. It also marked just the third-ever win for MSU over the Bruin program and head coach Preston Spradlin‘s first over Belmont.

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After missing three free throws in the final 20 seconds of regulation that may have sealed the win, the Eagles only hit one field goal in overtime but canned the 13 free throws in the extra five minutes while seeing Belmont misfire on five three-pointers.

Freshman forward Johni Broome continued his case for OVC Freshman of the Year with a team-high 20 points while grabbing 12 rebounds, his 10th double-double and his seventh effort of 20 or more points. Junior guard Skyelar Potter also joined Broome in the double-double department with 18 points and a team-best 13 rebounds. It’s the third game this year Broome and Potter have both notched double-doubles in the same game.

Junior guard DeVon Cooper registered 16 points, including a career-best 10-of-10 at the free throw line. Cooper drilled all six of his free throws in the final 1:05 of overtime. Senior James Baker, Jr., scored 15 points and had three blocked shots in his final home game, and sophomore guard Ta’lon Cooper was the fifth Eagle in double digits at 10.

Murphy flirted with his second triple-double of the year, both against MSU. He had a career-best 24 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists.

KEY MOMENTS

– Morehead State appeared to be in good position to seal the win, leading 69-60 with 1:06 left but the relentless Bruins kept chipping away. A steal and a layup by Tate Pierson with 25 seconds left had the Eagles only on top 73-71.
– Junior guard KJ Hunt, Jr., missed two free throws with 18 seconds left but Potter grabbed a long rebound and was fouled. He hit one of two free throws.
– Murphy got open and canned a triple with 3.2 seconds left. Hunt motored the length of the floor and tossed up a floater but it rimmed off at the final buzzer.
– Broome and Baker hit both ends of two-shot fouls and Ta’lon Cooper got a steal and bucket with 2:15 left in overtime as MSU’s only overtime field goal.
– Murphy hit another three at 1:59, and Caleb Hollander drained a triple with 39 seconds left but Belmont never cut it to less than three.
– DeVon Cooper nailed four free tosses in the final 33 seconds to distance the Eagles.
– In the first half, Belmont jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the 2:59.
– A 10-0 MSU run from 6:24 to 2:40 in the opening half pushed the Eagles ahead 26-20. Broome punctuated the rally with a layup.
– But Belmont quickly went on a 11-0 run itself, including two threes by Murphy, to go back ahead 31-26.
– Potter buried a corner three-pointer with four seconds left in the half as MSU led 32-31.

KEY STATS

– Morehead State hit a season-best 31 free throws, shooting 80 percent (31-of-39) at the line.
– Broome scored in double-figures in all but three of the Eagles’ 20 OVC games.
– The Eagles won the rebound battle 48-37. Morehead State posted a double-digit rebound margin in nine of the 20 conference contests and overall grabbed ore rebounds than the foe in 17 OVC games.
– The Eagles also outshot Belmont 45 % to 37%. Belmont hit 12 three-pointers, three above its average, but the Bruins launched 43 three-balls.
– Broome and Baker each had three blocked shots and the Eagles rejected 10 Belmont tries. MSU had double-double blocks for the second consecutive game and totaled 30 in the past three games.
– DeVon Cooper also added eight rebounds, his high in OVC play.

UP NEXT

The No. 2 seed for the OVC Tournament, Morehead State will face Southeast Missouri in the opening round Wednesday at 10:30 p.m. ET. The game will air on ESPN+.

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Austin Miller joins ABC 36 Sports Team as a Sports Reporter and Weekend Anchor. Austin is from the Louisville area and graduated from St. Xavier High School in 2008. Austin graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and a second concentration in German. While at IU, Austin was a blogger at Kentsterling.com and co-host, producer and engineer for WIUX, the school’s student radio station. Before coming to ABC 36, Austin was a news videographer at WLFI in West Lafayette from 2012-2015. While working with WLFI, Austin had the chance to cover the Purdue Boilermakers. He then accepted a Sports/New Reporter position at Local 4 KSNB-TV in Hastings Nebraska and was eventually promoted to sports full-time as the Weekend Sports Anchor/Reporter. While at KSNB-TV, Austin covered the University of Nebraska, the University of Nebraska-Kearney and Hastings College. After spending nearly six years away from home, Austin is excited to return to the Bluegrass State to cover the teams he grew up watching. In his spare time, Austin enjoys playing basketball, working out and cooking. If you have any story ideas or would like to say “Hello,” you can reach Austin by email at amiller@wtvq.com or direct message him on Twitter @AustinMillerTV.