MOREHEAD, Ky. - - Freshman Miguel Dicent sank a running bank shot with 4.9 seconds left to lift Morehead State over Belmont University men's basketball, 73-71, Saturday night.
But behind the assertive play of Karam Mashour, the Eagles pushed back and claimed a 20-16 advantage.
Belmont got more quality bench production from freshman Mack Mercer (Plymouth, Ind.), who provided consistent scoring and drew a slew of Morehead State fouls.
After sophomore Caleb Chowbay (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) set up freshman Tyler Hadden (Cincinnati, Ohio) for an easy two and a 25-24 Belmont lead, Corban Collins' layin capped a 7-2 Morehead State spurt to give the hosts a 31-27 edge.
But two free throws from freshman Amanze Egekeze (Lake in the Hills, Ill.) and a basket from senior Reece Chamberlain (Goodlettsville, Tenn.) forced the seventh tie of the first half and sent the teams to the locker room all square at 31.
Belmont shot 55 percent (12-for-22) from the field in the opening 20 minutes, but eight first half turnovers and five first half missed free throws hurt the cause.
The Bruins outrebounded Morehead State - one of the nation's top rebounding teams - 17-11 in the first half.
Bradds and Mercer each had eight first half points.
A Bradds tip-in and a driving basket from Barnette gave the Bruins a 37-35 lead with 17:35 remaining.
The seesaw affair continued, as neither team led by more than four points in the first 30 minutes of the game.
A three-pointer from Barnette put Belmont back on top 42-41 with 14:17 remaining before baskets from Brent Arrington and Kareem Story
The Bruins worked into the bonus with 10:29 left in regulation, but as was the case in the first half, uncharacteristic misses from the free throw line halted momentum.
Five points from Angelo Warner - which included a conventional three-point play off a tipped in free throw miss - gave Morehead State a 56-48 lead with 9:13 left.
Following two Barnette free throws, an Arrington basket and a Dicent three-pointer made the score 61-51 with 7:30 to go.
After Warner extended the margin to 11 with 6:43 remaining, junior Craig Bradshaw (Ridgetop, Tenn.) caught fire, willing the Bruins back into the game.
10 straight Bradshaw points got Belmont within 65-61 with 4:04 remaining.
Then after Anthony Elechi answered with a layin, Chowbay buried a deep three-pointer to trim the margin to 67-64 with 3:33 left.
But baskets from Arrington and Warner would stretch the Morehead State lead back to seven with 2:08 to go.
Following a Chowbay layin and an exchange of missed field goals, Warner would be called for a travelling violation while attempting to rebound.
Moments later, Bradshaw would set up Bradds for a baseline slam dunk to push Belmont within 71-68 with 59 seconds remaining.
From there, Belmont played a solid possession of defense and forced a shot clock violation to regain possession with 23 seconds left.
The Bruins then turned to Bradshaw, who drilled a three-pointer in front of the Bruin bench with 11 seconds left to tie the score at 71.
But following a timeout, Dicent broke free down the left sideline, stepped through two Bruin defenders and sank a left-handed bank shot with under five seconds left.
Belmont quickly inbounded to Barnette, but his cross-court pass to Bradshaw would be intercepted and the horn sounded.
All told, Belmont shot 53 percent (25-for-47) from the field and committed only two second half turnovers.
The Bruins would miss 11 free throws, including the front end of two one-and-one opportunities.
Bradds led three Bruins in double figures with 17 points. Bradshaw scored 15 and Barnette 12.
Mercer scored a career-high eight points.
Mashour led Morehead State (12-14, 7-4 OVC) with 22 points.
Belmont (15-9, 7-4 OVC) returns to game action Wednesday, Feb. 11 at Jacksonville State. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. CT. The game will be broadcast on OVC Digital Network. The live play-by-play of Voice of the Bruins Kevin Ingram can be heard on the Bruin Sports Network. In-game updates will be available on Twitter @BelmontMBB.