The Belmont men's basketball team knocked down 53 percent from the field on its way to an 86-63 win over Morehead State on Friday night (March 7) in the semifinals of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament at Municipal Auditorium.
The top-seeded Bruins, who have won 12 of their last 13 games, improve to 24-8 on the season. The fourth-seeded Eagles, who have dropped four of their last five, slip to 20-13 overall. BU ends up winning all three contests in the season series.
Belmont has won 20-or-more games in nine of the last 11 seasons and been to postseason play eight of the last 10 years. The defending tournament-champion Bruins have enjoyed NCAA Tournament berths in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2012 and 2013.
"Belmont is a terrific basketball team with a really good coach," Head Coach Sean Woods said. "They earned a double bye in this year's tournament, which made them fresh tonight. They were prepared, followed their script and made shots."
The Bruins connected on 27-of-51 from the floor, including 16-of-27 (59 percent) in the second period. Belmont drilled 11-of-24 (46 percent) from three-point range for the night and limited MSU to 3-of-17, which translated to 24 more points.
BU posted advantages of 22-10 in assists, 13-0 in fast-break points, 21-10 in points off turnovers, 28-24 in paint points, 28-18 in bench points and 32-31 in the rebounding department. The Eagles were outrebounded for just the second time all season.
The league's Player of the Year, senior J.J. Mann, paced Belmont with 16 points. Four other Bruins tallied double figures in scoring, while senior Blake Jenkins collected six rebounds and junior Reece Chamberlain was credited with eight assists.
"Belmont is one of the nation's best shooting teams," Woods said. "They can score with just about anyone in the country. I didn't think we played particularly well, but you have to give their players a lot of credit. They dictated everything tonight."
Junior Angelo Warner and sophomore Brent Arrington led MSU with 15 points, four rebounds and three assists apiece. Senior Chad Posthumus, who has ranked in the top five nationally all season, pulled down a game-best eight boards for the Eagles.
Belmont opened up a 10-point advantage by intermission and pushed it to a game-high 31 points with 3:24 remaining. The Bruins manufactured a 12-2 spurt after the contest was tied at 14. BU then recorded 51 points in the second half to pull away.
The game was televised by ESPNU. It was MSU's sixth national-TV appearance this season.
"The future continues to be bright for Morehead State men's basketball," Woods added. "We didn't have enough veterans playing at a high level tonight to beat a really good Belmont squad, but I expect we will be in that position before too long."