Murray State earns OVC title and NCAA berth with win over Belmont

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Murray State wins OVC tourney, onto Big Dance (0:31)

Murray State delivers a strong performance in the second half to beat Belmont 68-51 and punch a ticket to the NCAA tournament. (0:31)

EVANSVILLE, Ind. -- Jonathan Stark finished with 24 points and Ja Morant added 15 to give Murray State a 68-51 victory over Belmont on Saturday night in the Ohio Valley Conference championship game.

With the win, the Racers (26-5) became the first team to qualify for the NCAA tournament. They advance for the first time since 2012 and will await to learn their seeding on March 11.

Murray State earned revenge over Belmont, which had won the previous two times the schools met in the OVC title game in 2013 and 2015. The Racers extended their winning streak to 13, the longest in the nation after Michigan State lost to Michigan in the Big Ten Conference tournament semifinal earlier Saturday.

The Racers went on a 16-3 run in the last seven minutes of the game to put it out of reach. Shaq Buchanan connected on a 3-pointer with 3:23 remaining to boost the lead to 62-49. Murray State made seven 3-pointers and shot 43.8 percent from beyond the arc in the second half.

Belmont led 32-29 at halftime after trailing by 12 early in the game. It used a 15-2 run over the final six minutes of the first half to take the lead.

Kevin McClain finished with 17 points, and Dylan Windler had 10 for the Bruins.

BIG PICTURE

Belmont: The Bruins have won at least 20 games each season since they left the Atlantic Sun and joined the OVC in 2013.

Murray State: The Racers matched their highest win total in six years, when they went 31-2 and were the No. 6 seed in the NCAA tournament.

UP NEXT

Belmont: Hoping for an invite to the National Invitation Tournament.

Murray State: NCAA tournament.