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Racers rally to beat Morehead State in OVC semis

Mar 7, 2015 - 5:13 AM Nashville, TN ( - Cameron Payne drained the go-ahead 3-point shot in the final minute and 25th-ranked Murray State fended off Morehead State, 80-77, in the semifinals of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament.

Payne had 25 points and Jarvis Williams totaled 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Racers (27-4), who have won 25 consecutive games.

Murray State, which rallied from an 11-point deficit with 6 1/2 minutes left, will face third-seeded Belmont in Saturday night's championship game. Belmont edged No. 2 seed Eastern Kentucky, 53-52, in the other semifinal.

"We wouldn't have won this game in November, but thanks to the adversity that these guys have gone through, they were ready for the challenge," Murray State coach Steve Prohm said. "Hopefully we can finish this off tomorrow."

The Racers lost to Belmont in overtime in the 2013 OVC title game.

Karam Mashour had 22 points and 11 rebounds, and Kareem Storey scored 20 for the Eagles (17-17), who won their previous five contests.

"It's disheartening right now for us," Morehead State coach Sean Woods said. "I am proud of my guys, but you have to give you hat off to Murray State who has weathered the storm. You have to give you hat off to Cameron Payne who hit three big threes, probably the biggest threes of his life, and that is why he is Player of the Year."

A dunk by Marcus Fuggins extended Morehead State's lead to 71-60 with 6:31 left, but an ensuing 9-1 burst got the Racers back in contention. Payne capped the run with a 3-pointer.

Storey's layup with 1:04 remaining moved the Eagles in front, 77-75, but Payne then hit his attempt from beyond the arc nearly 10 seconds later.

Storey missed a 3-point try, and T.J. Sapp drained two from the charity stripe with 22 seconds to go.

The Eagles had their chances to force overtime. Miguel Dincent air-balled a 3- point try, but Morehead State retained possession after the ball went out of bounds with 7.6 seconds left. Chad Donley's 3-point try at the buzzer caromed off the backboard and rim.

The Racers, who haven't lost since Nov. 29 against Valparaiso, were ahead 43-32 at the half. Sapp had 15 of his 17 points in the opening 20 minutes.

A 15-3 run gave Morehead State is 71-60 advantage, but the Eagles made one of their last eight shots in the game.

Game Notes

Murray State has won six straight in the series, including a 66-57 decision on Jan. 3 at Johnson Arena ... The Racers, who lost to Eastern Kentucky in last season's OVC semifinals, are looking for their 16th title and matching trip to the NCAA Tournament ... Angelo Warner scored 13 for Morehead State, while Jeffery Moss had 10 for Murray State ... The Racers were outscored, 21-0 in bench points.