For those of you who didn’t spend your Saturday at the Municipal Auditorium or watching ESPN2, Belmont University’s Men’s Basketball Team sealed their place in the NCAA Tournament with a last-second shot in overtime against Murray State in the OVC Championship.
While the Bruins have punched their ticket at the Big Dance the past two years, the 70-68 win over Murray State garnered a whole new level of celebration—the Bruins went home OVC Champions their very first year in the conference. Many fans will view this win from the perspective of what it will do for the basketball program in future years, but Coach Rick Byrd explained, “I think sometimes we all focus on what it does for the future. I’m more appreciative of what it does for the guys on our team, that they [get] to go play in the NCAA Tournament.”
The win was not an easy one, with Belmont trailing 58-51 with two minutes left in regulation. But the Bruins pulled the score to a tie, bringing the game into overtime, and eventually won the game when Kerron Johnson hit a jump shot in the lane with 1.2 seconds on the clock. JJ Mann led the Bruins with 18 points, Ian Clark was awarded OVC Player of the Year, and Johnson was named tournament Most Valuable Player.
Be sure to tune in this Sunday for the March Madness selection and during the tournament as Nashville’s Belmont Bruins play in the Big Dance for the third consecutive year.