Morehead State wins OVC tourney
Harper scores 27 points to lead Eagles into NCAA tournament
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Demonte Harper had 27 points and 11 rebounds, and Morehead State won the Ohio Valley Conference tournament championship by beating Tennessee Tech 80-73 on Saturday night.
Kenneth Faried notched his 27th double-double this season with 24 points and 15 rebounds in helping the Eagles (24-9) earn their second NCAA tournament berth in three years. This is their fourth overall OVC tournament title, also winning in 1983, 1984 and 2009.
No. 4 seed Tennessee Tech (20-12) upset regular-season champion Murray State to reach its first championship game since 2003. But the Golden Eagles couldn't overcome cold shooting in their attempt to reach the NCAAs for the first time since 1963.
Kevin Murphy led Tennessee Tech with 30 points, and Jud Dillard had 10.
Second-seeded Morehead State never trailed, with Tennessee Tech managing to tie it only three times in the opening minutes. The Golden Eagles made it interesting late after trailing by as much as 15 with 7:10 left, using a 17-6 spurt to pull within 69-65 with 1:49 left as Murphy hit a 3-pointer, then Zac Swansey stole the ball and scored on a layup to cap the spurt.
Faried dunked on the other end. Murphy made two free throws to make it 71-67 before Faried hit two free throws himself. The Eagles went 7 of 10 at the line in the final 69 seconds to hold off Tennessee Tech.
Morehead State came having allowed opponents to top 70 points only three times this season, with a scoring defense averaging 61.3 points per game.
Playing its third game in three nights, Tennessee Tech just couldn't come up with enough offense to overcome Morehead State's strong shooting. The Eagles went 7 of 16 from beyond the arc and shot 47.9 percent for the game (23 of 48) compared to 35.5 percent (22 of 62) for Tennessee Tech.
The Golden Eagles last tied it at 9, then Harper hit a layup to put the Eagles ahead to stay with 14:28 remaining. He also hit another bucket, then two free throws as Morehead State built its lead to 12.
The Eagles could've put it away much sooner except they went cold, making only one field goal in the final 5 minutes of the first half. They led 34-27 at halftime.
Tennessee Tech didn't even go to the line until there was 19:07 left in the game, when Murphy hit the Golden Eagles' first two free throws. They finished 22 of 27 at the line but couldn't make up for being outrebounded 47-27.