NASHVILLE — Sophomore Evan Bradds converted a three-point play with 11.3 seconds remaining, and the Belmont men’s basketball team survived a wild final possession to hang on for a 58-57 Ohio Valley Conference victory over Morehead State on Saturday evening at the Curb Event Center.
The Bruins, who snap a three-game skid, improve to 16-10 overall, 8-5 in conference action and 10-2 at home. The Eagles, who have now dropped back-to-back tilts after winning five of six, slip to 12-16 overall, 7-6 in league play and 6-9 on the road. BU salvages a series split with MSU this season.
“This is a tough loss to take,” Head Coach Sean Woods said. “Tonight’s game was tight from start to finish, and you have to give Belmont credit for finding a way to win. I thought our young men played hard, but we missed some opportunities down the stretch and they took advantage of our mistakes.”
The contest featured 14 ties and 19 lead changes. Morehead State’s largest lead of four points came with 2:11 to play. Belmont’s biggest advantage of two points came with 7:14remaining. The Eagles led for 22:53, while the Bruins sat in the driver’s seat for 7:52 and the game was knotted for 9:15.
Morehead State opened up a two-possession advantage with just over two minutes remaining when sophomore Corban Collins got loose for a lay-up. Senior Reece Chamberlain answered with a three-pointer just seconds later to cut Belmont’s deficit to 56-55.
Senior Brent Arrington split a pair of free-throw attempts with 1:11to play, which gave the Eagles a 57-55 advantage. The teams traded missed shots, Arrington’s was a dunk from the baseline, in the final minute before Bradds scored the eventual game-winner.
Freshman Mack Mercer registered a game-best 17 points for Belmont on 7-of-12 from the floor. Bradds posted a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Chamberlain added 10 points.
Arrington recorded a team-high 15 points for Morehead State, to go along with eight rebounds. Senior Karam Mashour contributed his fourth Division I double-double with 13 points and 12 boards.
Belmont connected on 40 percent (18-of-45) from the field, including 53 percent (10-of-19) after intermission, while Morehead State knocked down just 34 percent (22-of-64) for the night. Both clubs made four long balls and the Bruins notched a nine-point advantage from the charity stripe.
Morehead State turned in a 43-31 rebounding advantage, including 16-4 on the offensive end.
MSU committed just nine turnovers, its third-lowest figure of the season, while Belmont gave the ball away only 10 times. Paint points were even, second-chance points were identical, MSU was +1 in points off turnovers and +2 in fast-break points. BU posted a 23-9 edge in bench points.
“We rebounded well and took care of the ball, but we missed too many shots,” Woods said. “We missed a bunch of bunnies from point blank range. You can’t do that against a quality opponent like Belmont. We played well enough to win, but we just didn’t finish at the end. It’s disappointing.”
The Eagles return to Nashville on Thursday when they square off with Tennessee State at 8 p.m. ET. The game will be shown live on the OVC Digital Network and broadcast on the Eagle Sports Network. For more, visit MSUEagles.com, Twitter.com/MSUAthletics or Facebook.com/MSUEagles.