EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Ja Morant scored 22 of his 36 points in the second half and Murray State beat Belmont 77-65 on Saturday night in the Ohio Valley Conference championship to earn an NCAA Tournament bid.
The Racers (27-4) earned the first spot this year in the tournament.
Dylan Windler scored 17 points for Belmont (26-5) and Kevin McClain added 14. The Bruins (26-5) had won 15 in a row.
Belmont led by six at halftime and early in the second half before allowing the Racers to go on a 14-2 run.
The Bruins took a one-point lead with 3:40 left on Windler’s jump-hook, but Morant answered with a layup and scored eight straight for Murray State. He also assisted on Brown’s 3 from the wing to extend the Racers’ lead to six with 56 seconds remaining. Darnell Cowart then drew a charge on the next possession to seal the win.
It was the second matchup this season between the OVC powers. Belmont won the first, 79-66, on the road Jan. 24.
Belmont played without 6-foot-11 center Nick Muszynski, who suffered an ankle injury in Friday’s semifinal win over Austin Peay. The OVC Freshman of the Year averages 14.9 points and led the league in field-goal percentage (60.8) and blocks per game (2.2).
Murray State: The Racers are headed to the NCAA tournament for fourth time this decade.
Belmont: The Bruins are forced to wait a week until Selection Sunday to learn their fate. They will hold out hope their resume is viewed favorably by the selection committee to be an at-large team. If they finish outside of the bubble, they will play in the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) as the OVC regular-season co-champion.