Murray State wins, becomes first team invited to grand ball

We already knew that Murray State was going to the NCAA tournament one way or another, but now it’s official.

The Racers defeated Morehead State 71-67 in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament title game on Saturday night, becoming the first team to officially earn an invitation to the big dance.

At 30-2 and on the heels of an 18-0 conference run that propelled them to 22nd in the nation, the Racers certainly would have earned a general offer had they not won the OVC Tournament. But thanks to an impressive showing, they won’t have to worry about that and have kept one of their conference rivals for now in the process.

The two teams were tied at 34 at halftime, and things weren’t much different in the second half. Murray State started to take command with about seven minutes left, going up to six, but Morehead State clawed their way back to make it a tight game down the stretch.

With two minutes to go, the Eagles trailed by two. KJ Williams then hit a jumper to put the Racers at four, and Judge Hill hit a free throw a little later to make it five. Morehead State responded, however, finding Tray Hollowell open for a three to cut the deficit to just two.

After an intentional foul, Williams was only able to hit one free throw, limiting herself to one play at one possession. The Eagles turned to Hollowell again, but he couldn’t connect on his deep attempt and the Racers grabbed the rebound. Tevin Brown had a free throw but missed the second, making it a four-point game with 14 seconds left.

However, Hollowell wasn’t ready to give up just yet. He drilled a three to make it a one-point deficit with eight seconds left. Brown went to the line for Murray State and hit both, then the Racers intentionally committed three. Ta’lon Cooper missed the first by accident and the second on purpose, but Murray State recovered the miss. Williams hit a final free throw to seal the victory.

Brown led Murray State with 23 points and had six rebounds. Hill had 21 points and Williams had eight points and 10 rebounds.

Morehead State’s Johni Broome led all scorers with 32 points and eight rebounds as well. Hollowell and Cooper both recorded 12 points.

Sports Grp1

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