Story by Bryan Edwards, Staff writer
The Murray State men’s basketball team welcomed the Belmont Bruins to the CFSB Center for OVC action.
The Bruins were too much for the Racers – taking the contest 81-69 and continuing their undefeated run through OVC play.
The win for Belmont was the first win in the CFSB Center for the Bruins and Head Coach Rick Byrd.
The Racers opened the scoring with junior guard Jonathan Stark’s jump shot, but the Bruins went on a 12-0 run following the basket, putting the Bruins up 12-2 early in the first half.
Belmont got their first half lead up to 17 points, but the Racers cut that lead to just eight at 45-37 heading into the locker room.
Belmont shot 54 percent from the field and made six three-point shots in the first half. The Bruin defense limited the Racer offense to 41 percent shooting and 14 percent from beyond the arc on one-of-seven shooting.
Despite the eight point deficit, Stark led all scorers at the half with 16 points on seven of 11 shooting.
The Racers continued the battle in the second half and were able to tie the game at 54 with 11:23 left in the contest.
Belmont senior forward Evan Bradds scored eight straight points for the Bruins to create some distance between the two teams.
The Racers were able to get the game down to four, and then a foul was called on Murray State freshman forward Jalen Dupree with 1:30 remaining in the game. Head Coach Matt McMahon argued the call and receive a technical foul and Belmont hit their free throws down the stretch to seal the game 81-69.
Stark said it meant a lot that McMahon would step out and defend his players.
“It meant a lot to us and lets us know that he has our back,” Stark said. “We will remember that and it will give us more energy to play harder for him.”
McMahon had no comment on the technical foul that he received.
Stark led all scorers with 26 points on 11-of-23 shooting. Belmont’s Bradds and junior forward Amanze Egekeze both recorded 20 plus points and 10 plus rebounds for the Bruins.
McMahon said he praised the team on how well they were able to fight back in the first half.
“During the first half, I thought Belmont got off to a great start,” McMahon said. “I thought we did a great job battling back and getting it back to eight before the half.”
The loss puts the Racers back in a three-way tie for the OVC West lead at 6-4 in the conference and 12-12 overall.
The Racers will travel to play Morehead State at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 8, in Morehead, Kentucky.