Trading blows throughout the first half set the tone for a momentous turnaround for Belmont in a dominant second half performance as the Bruins emerged victorious 81-73.
Struggling out of the locker room in the second half, bench play and contributions from unexpected sources paved the way to an eye-catching win. The play of Mack Mercer and Kevin McClain was quite important. But once again, Belmont was able to rely on the play of talented junior forward Evan Bradds who put up a line of 23 points and 10 rebounds.
A 5-point spurt from Dylan Windler flipped a 53-50 Murray State lead into a 55-53 Bruin advantage. Coach Rick Byrd's team never relinquished its lead and soon extended its lead to 70-57, a 19-4 run that concluded with a 3-pointer and dunk from Craig Bradshaw, who before that point had been quiet all night. Bradshaw ended the evening with 11 points.
Murray State received excellent performances from Bryce Jones (20 points) and Gee McGhee (17 points), but an inability to get Wayne Langston and Jeffery Moss going hurt.
As well as Belmont played in the second half, it was more of a slugfest in in the game's opening half.
The Racers and Bruins both shot around 60 percent in the game's first 20 minutes and both teams shot at least 50 percent from beyond the arc in the first half It was a conglomeration of made shots and defensive rebounds. Neither team scored a single second-chance point in the opening half of play. Despite Belmont getting easy access to the lane early (the Bruins scored 14 of their first 21 points in the paint), the Racers kept up. Belmont led just 39-38 going into the break with both teams averaging better than 1.1 points per possession. And that was after a hectic start in which eight of the game's first 10 shots found the bottom of the net.
Overall, 16 turnovers for MSU compared to 11 for Belmont (and a higher turnover percentage each half) proved to make a different. A 19-26 night from the free throw line outpaced an 11-18 effort from from the Racers.
Belmont moved to 4-0 and sports the best mark in the OVC after the night. Murray State now sits at 8-9 and 2-2 in conference play.