EVANSVILLE, Ky. — Junior guard DeVon Cooper scored a career-high 25 points and hit four free throws in the final 18 seconds as the Morehead State men’s basketball team erased a big first-half deficit to rally past rival eastern Kentucky 67-64 and advance to the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament championship game.
The Eagles (22-7) will play for the title for the first time since winning the trophy in 2010-11. It marked the Colonels’ final official OVC game, finishing the year also 22-7.
The top two teams in the tournament will face off for the title on Saturday at the Ford Center, Belmont and Morehead State. The game tips off at 8 p.m. ET.
Cooper was 7-of-11 from the field, hit all eight free throws, and also added six rebounds and four assists in 34 minutes. Freshman Johni Broome posted his 12th double-double of the year with 17 points and 13 rebounds, his fifth double-figure rebounding game in a row. In the process, Broome set the MSU freshman rebounding record, now with 250. He broke Kenneth Faried’s previous mark of 241.
The Eagles enter the title matchup winners of 18 of the last 19 games. The only other team to do that in program history was the 1983-84 squad, coached by Wayne Martin, which also went on to win the championship game.
– Tied at 10-10, EKU hit a trio of three-pointers to go up 19-12 with 10:15 left in the first half.
– A layup by Devontae Blanton with 3:39 left in the half was the last field goal eKU hit.
– DeVon Cooper then took over, hitting two free throws, two three pointers and a jumper to key the 12-0 run, scoring 10 of the 12.
– With 10:30 to go in the game, Broome hit a free throw to put his team up 49-38, its largest lead.
– But, a 16-5 eKU run saw the Colonels re-take the lead (54-53), but on the next possession Ta’lon Cooper drove and hit a layup. MSU never trailed again.
– Michael Moreno canned a long three-pointer with 1:37 left as it tied the game at 59-all.
– Broome dropped in a shot with 1:11 left, and then Skyelar Potter nailed a layup with 29 seconds left for a four-point lead. eKU hit another triple, but Cooper’s poise to get the ball up court sealed the win.
– Cooper hit both ends of a one-and-one with 18 ticks left and hit two more with four seconds left. eKU missed two three-pointers in the final seven seconds.
– Cooper has now hit 24 consecutive free throws in the previous three games.
– MSU out-rebounded eKU 38-28, now having out-rebounded 13 different opponents this year by double digits.
– Cooper’s previous career-high was 20 this year against Jacksonville State.
– MSU hit 14 of 18 free throws.
– There were only five total second-chance points in the game.
– The Eagles hit 49 percent (24-of-49) for the game.
– MSU had to contend with eKU freshman guard Wendell Green, who scored a game-high 29 points.
– MSU finished with 19 turnovers but only had seven giveaways in the final 20 minutes.
– Morehead State’s 22 wins rank fourth all-time in program history.