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Strong Effort, Payneful Result

Strong Effort, Payneful Result

MURRAY, Ky. - - Despite some strong stretches, Belmont University men's basketball dropped a 92-77 decision at Murray State Thursday night.

The game marked the fourth meeting between Belmont and Murray State in OVC play, with the previous three all becoming instant classics. In fact, the Bruins' 99-96 victory in Nashville last season would be the highest scoring game in Curb Event Center history.

The Racers entered on an 11-game winning streak behind efficient offense and balanced scoring.

A layin from sophomore Evan Bradds (Jamestown, Ohio) and a three-pointer from junior Craig Bradshaw (Ridgetop, Tenn.) gave Belmont an early 5-4 lead.

But after enduring 11-for-62 three-point shooting in its last two games, Belmont again fought through head-scratching outside shooting.

Moreover, when senior Reece Chamberlain (Goodlettsville, Tenn.) picked up his second personal foul at the 14:43 mark and was forced to the bench, the Bruins would get a bit disjointed without their floor general.

Murray State capped a 12-0 run on a dunk from Jarvis Williams to lead 16-5 with 12:33 left in the half.

A pullup jumper from sophomore Taylor Barnette (Lexington, Ky.) ended the drought.

A driving layin from Bradshaw and a conventional three-point play from Bradds got the Bruins within 18-12 at the 10:27 mark.

Belmont settled in defensively, hounding Racer post players and contesting shots and passes.

The top scoring Bruin duo continued to pace Belmont production, as two Bradds free throws and a dynamic Bradshaw steal and score made the score 25-20 with 7:43 left in the half.

But again Murray State had a response, as Justin Seymour sparked a 10-0 run with a baseline three-pointer to push the Racer lead to 35-20.

Two straight three-pointers from Barnette stabilized the Bruins, and when Bradds scored along the baseline, Belmont closed within 39-33 with 2:15 to go in the half.

A Cameron Payne conventional three-point play gave Murray State a 46-37 lead at halftime.

Belmont shot 41 percent (14-for-34) from the field in the opening 20 minutes - including just 4-for-16 from three-point distance.

Belmont committed only three turnovers in the first half.

Bradds led the way with 15 first half points.

The Bruins got exactly what they wanted out of the locker room, as baskets from Bradshaw and Bradds got Belmont within 46-41 with 19:18 remaining.

From there, the Racers would unleash a scoring run that proved too much to overcome. The hot-shooting Racers would score on seven consecutive possessions - including three straight three-pointers from Cameron Payne - to make the score 64-47 with 16:08 left.

Belmont had scored well - 12 points by the first media timeout of the second half - but had given ground.

The Racers would make seven three-pointers in the first eight and a half minutes of the second half to seize control.

Belmont got quality bench production down the stretch, but simply could not get back within single figures.

All told, Belmont shot 44 percent (28-for-64) from the field - including 11-for-31 from three-point distance. The Bruins committed only eight turnovers.

Barnette led three Bruins in double figures with 19 points. Bradds had 17, while Bradshaw scored 16.

Payne led Murray State (14-4, 4-0 OVC) with 23 points.

Belmont (10-7, 2-2 OVC) returns to game action Saturday, Jan. 17 at Austin Peay. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. CT. The game will be broadcast live on the OVC Digital Network. The live play-by-play of Voice of the Bruins Kevin Ingram can be heard on the Bruin Sports Network and 104.5 The Zone. In-game updates will be available on Twitter @BelmontMBB.

NOTES: Bradds, who entered third in the nation in field goal percentage, went 7-for-11 from the field ... Belmont outscored Murray State, 27-13, in points off turnovers ... Barnette scored in double figures for a second straight game ... Belmont, which leads the nation with a 74-10 conference record since 2010-11, drops consecutive conference games for the first time since Jan 2010.