WATCH || The Bruins claimed the OVC Regular Season Championship on Saturday evening at the Show Me Center! Check out highlights and what coach Byrd had to say after the game here. pic.twitter.com/3msaJmb9cT— Belmont Basketball (@BelmontMBB) March 3, 2019
CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO. - - Behind 27 points from senior Kevin McClain (Jennings, Fla.), Belmont University men's basketball defeated Southeast Missouri, 84-66, Saturday night.
With the victory, Belmont earned its 10th regular season conference title in the last 14 seasons - a standard of achievement rivaled nationally only by Gonzaga and Kansas.
It marks the Bruins' fifth regular season conference title in seven seasons of Ohio Valley Conference membership.
Senior All-America candidate Dylan Windler (Indianapolis, Ind.) added 22 points and 11 rebounds for his 33rd career double-double.
Belmont opened the game on a 10-1 run, holding Southeast Missouri without a field goal for over three minutes.
Windler hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Bruins a 23-13 lead at the 11:11 mark.
Freshman Nick Muszynski (Pickerington, Ohio) helped Belmont score 12 of the final 18 points of the first half and lead 45-28 at halftime.
Southeast Missouri got within 64-52 with 8:23 remaining on a Ledarrius Brewer basket, but a Michael Benkert (Greenwood, Ind.) 3-pointer and four Belmont free throws pushed the margin back to 19.
Muszynski had 10 points and three blocked shots, while freshman Grayson Murphy (Franklin, Tenn.) flirted with a triple-double before posting seven points, nine rebounds and 10 assists.
Belmont handed out 20 assists on 30 made field goals and forced 16 Southeast Missouri turnovers.
Mark Laros led Southeast Missouri (10-21, 5-13 OVC) with 12 points.
Belmont (25-4, 16-2 OVC), which ranks among national leaders with 12 true road victories, has won 13 consecutive games and earns the No. 1 seed in the upcoming OVC Tournament.
Belmont will face either Austin Peay, Morehead State or SIU Edwardsville Friday, March 8 in the OVC Semifinal Round. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. CT from the Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU and the ESPN app. 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 via Twitter @BelmontMBB.
2019 OVC Basketball Championship Bracket
NOTES: Belmont improves to 8-0 vs. Southeast Missouri ... Belmont is 46-6 the last three seasons in conference play; Belmont is 97-19 in conference games since joining the OVC in 2012-13 ... McClain scored 58 points vs. Southeast Missouri this season, after going for a career-high 31 points earlier this season (1/31/19) ... Windler has posted a double-double in 10 of his last 15 games ... Windler has 1,598 career points ... Muszynski has recorded multiple blocked shots in 20 games this season ... Benkert is averaging 8.9 points per game over his last seven games ... Murphy has 43 assists and four turnovers over his last five games.
Belmont University men's basketball has earned postseason invitations 12 of the last 13 seasons, including seven automatic berths to the NCAA Tournament. The Bruins have won 17 conference championships since 2006 - third-most nationally over that span (Gonzaga, Kansas). Belmont is one of only six NCAA Division I programs outside the Power 5 to post Top 100 RPIs eight consecutive seasons (BYU, Gonzaga, Saint Mary's (CA), San Diego State, Wichita State). Belmont is one of only seven NCAA Division I programs to win 19 or more games 14 consecutive seasons (BYU, Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, Michigan State, North Carolina; Louisville and San Diego State still eligible). Belmont University men's basketball boasts an NCAA-leading 16 CoSIDA Academic All-America selections since 2001 and is one of only three NCAA Division I programs to make the NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR) Honor Roll every year of existence.