The last time the Morehead State Eagles and the Belmont Bruins met, it was a closely-contested affair. When the dust settled, the Bruins came away with a 6-point win on their home floor.
That was just 9 days ago, on February 4th.
Since then, the Bruins have staked their claim atop the Ohio Valley Conference standings, while the Eagles were looking to gain some ground in the race for the regular season title. After a win over the Eastern Kentucky Colonels in their last outing, the Eagles were looking for some revenge against the Bruins, this time in front of their own crowd.
Belmont raced out to a 14-point lead after the first half, but a cold spell in the second allowed Morehead State to storm back and seize control of the game. The Bruins were held off the scoreboard for close to 7 minutes, and the Eagles used a 15-0 run to build momentum that would carry them down the stretch.
The Bruins had a chance to win, but a missed jumper from Craig Bradshaw sealed the comeback for the Eagles, who landed a bit of revenge with the 78-77 victory over the Bruins.
The first half was all about the Bruins, who raced out to an early 9-2 lead behind 6 points in the first three minutes from Evan Bradds.
Belmont’s lead reached as many as 16 in the opening half, and the Eagles never led in the half. The Bruins slowly built their lead as the half wore on, and seemingly had an answer for whatever Morehead State would throw at them.
Bradshaw pushed the lead back to 14 before the half was out, giving Belmont the 43-29 advantage heading into the break.
In the second half, the roles reversed, and it was all about the Eagles.
The teams went back and forth in the early goings, with the Eagles trying to cut into the lead of the Bruins. DeJuan Marrero and Brent Arrington cut the deficit to 9 points on several occasions in the opening five minutes, but like the first half, Belmont always had an answer. Bradshaw completed a three-point play to push the lead back to 13 with 14:33 left on the clock.
Little did they know at the time, but those were the last points that the Bruins would score for the next six-plus minutes. The door flew wide open for the Eagles, and they came storming through and took full advantage.
Morehead State reeled off a 15-0 run during Belmont’s cold spell, and took their first lead of the game. Arrington got things started with a three pointer, and Anthony Elechi capped it off with a layup at the 8:08 mark to give the Eagles a 61-59 lead.
Amanze Egekeze hit 1-of-2 free throws at the 7:54 mark to end Belmont’s lengthy drought, but the Eagles would cling to their lead. They would stretch it to as many as 6 in the closing minutes, but the Bruins continued to fight down to the wire.
Bradshaw pushed the Bruins back in front by 2 at the 1:06 mark of the second half on a layup, giving Belmont a 77-75 lead. Arrington hit 1-of-2 free throws on the next possession for the Eagles, and a defensive stop gave the Eagles a chance to take the lead once more.
With 14 seconds on the clock, Elechi was fouled by Bradds, and he made both free throws to give the Eagles a 78-77 lead.
Belmont still had one last chance at coming away with the win, and the ball was in Bradshaw’s hands. With time winding down, he put up a jumper, and it missed the mark. Time had expired, and Morehead State fans everywhere let out a collective sigh of relief.
Thanks to a lengthy 15-0 run, the Morehead State Eagles exacted some revenge, taking down the conference-leading Belmont Bruins 78-77.
For Belmont, is that their Big Three who led the way on the afternoon. Craig Bradshaw scored a game-high 28 points, while Evan Bradds added 16 points and Taylor Barnette added 12 points of his own in the loss.
Guard Austin Luke was held off the scoreboard, but he did record 13 assists.
On the Morehead State side of the ball, they relied heavily on their own trio to do the majority of the damage. Brent Arrington recorded a team-high 24 points to go along with 4 rebounds and 3 assists, while DeJuan Marrero added 21 points and 11 rebounds, and Anthony Elechi recorded 11 points and 7 rebounds of his own.
Despite the loss, the Belmont Bruins (18-9, 10-3) still remain atop the Ohio Valley Conference standings. They are tops in the East Division, a half-game up on both the Tennessee State Tigers and the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles. The Bruins will look to put some separation between themselves and the rest of the conference when they take on the Eastern Kentucky Colonels on Thursday night.
The win moved the Morehead State Eagles (14-11, 8-5) to within 2 games of the Bruins in the conference standings. With four games left in the regular season, including three left in Ohio Valley play, each game is important for the Eagles. They have a rare February non-conference game on Tuesday against St. Catharine.