A last-second run comes up short as the Bruins fall hard in the men’s basketball OVC Champions
A last chance run couldn’t overcome the Morehead State Eagles, sending the Bruins back to Nashville to cope with an 86-71 loss in the Ohio Valley Conference Championship.
Nearly a season-long win streak was brought to an abrupt end just the week before, giving the Bruins a two-game losing streak ahead of the postseason – one of which was handed to them by Morehead State who they would meet exactly a week later in the Championship.
The contrast between what most of their season was and the one week everything came crashing down affected Saturday’s championship game.
Though the loss was hard on him, his team and Belmont in general, coach Casey Alexander isn’t letting one week define their entire season.
“We’ve got a lot to be thankful for, a lot to appreciate,” said Alexander. “Our team had a great year and overcame a lot. We’ll have a lot to look back on and be proud of, it hurts right now but we have a lot to be thankful for.”
Despite a 23-point performance from junior Nick Myszynkski, and double figure performances from three other players, the Bruins didn’t take the lead at any point in the matchup.
“I don’t think it was as much as us playing porley as it was them just being really really good,” said Muszynski. “Credit to our guys for fighting to the horn, but you have to give credit where credit is due.”
Morehead State simply outplayed the Bruins at every capacity; what the Bruins did, the Eagles did it better, having an answer to every Belmont run without skipping a beat.
The Eagles’ performance was one nobody in the NCAA could overlook, Alexander especially tips his hat at their incredible 40-minute fight.
“They were phenomenal,” said Alexander. “I thought our team was ready, we certainly were confident, but we got out played by a team that played absolutely tremendous. All the credit goes to them, they deserve it, and they will represent our league very well in the tournaments I’m sure of that.”
For a few minutes at the beginning of the game, the Bruins put up numbers that kept them in the running at a one possession game. But the Eagles quickly took off on a 35-minute stretch of momentum that couldn’t be kept up with.
The combination of their offensive efficiency, both in the paint and outside the arc, and their man-to-man defensive approach stopped Belmont in their tracks as they tried for a second straight championship.
Moving forward the option is always open for a team like Belmont to compete in the National Invitation Tournament, an option Muszynski is more than willing to take advantage of if it means a chance to play for a championship with his team again.
“This is a really resilient group, if we get the opportunity to play in the NIT we’re going to take that and try to win that tournament. I think we’re deserving of an NIT bid, in our minds, this season isn’t over yet.”
The light that shines brightest coming out of this heartbreaking loss, is the fact that this exact group of athletes will be returning to the floor together once again for the 2021-22 season. A blocked shot at the big dance in 2020 turned into a shot that came up short in 2021.
But you know what they say: “the third time’s the charm.”
This article written by Julieann Challacombe.