For a second, maybe a smidge more, Saturday night, Belmont’s hopes of winning the Ohio Valley Conference tournament were dashed.
Murray State big man Jarvis Williams collected a rebound off a miss by the Bruins and the Racers appeared on their way to a 26th consecutive victory. But Williams attempted to pass the ball to guard T.J. Sapp who wasn’t expecting it so quickly and he fumbled it out of bounds giving Belmont new life.
Moments later, Taylor Barnette curled off a screen near the top of arc and drilled a deep 3-pointer to give Belmont an 88-87 victory and automatic berth in the NCAA tournament.
Murray State had 3.2 seconds to try to travel the length of the court and hit a game winner but it was unable to do so and the nation’s second longest active winning streak was over.
Murray State was 16-0 this season when scoring 80 or more prior to losing to Belmont which is back in the tournament for the second time in the past three seasons. The Bruins hit 15 3-pointers in the game to upset the Racers. Craig Bradshaw scored 25 points and Evan Bradds added 21, but Barnette was the hero with all nine of his points coming from behind the 3-point line.
It is a bitter loss for Murray State because it almost certainly cost the Racers a trip to the NCAA tournament. Murray State likely has no chance at earning an at-large bid even though it has a 27-5 record. The Racers played only one NCAA Tournament-caliber team outside of conference play this season and lost by 27 to Xavier.
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