Nashville, TN (SportsNetwork.com) - Taylor Barnette's three-pointer went through the net with 3.2 seconds remaining in regulation, giving Belmont a shocking 88-87 decision over No. 25 Murray State.
"Barnette gets the ball off quicker than anyone else on our team and he had great range. I knew that he wouldn't miss it because of the situation," said Belmont head coach Rick Byrd. "It worked and it was a matter of going for the win instead of going for the tie. I made a couple of guesses that last two nights and they turned out right."
Craig Bradshaw led the way with 25 points for the Bruins (22-10) won the Ohio Valley Conference for the second time in the last three seasons and became the first program to punch a ticket to the NCAA Tournament.
Barnette ended up with nine points by going 3-of-8 from beyond the arc.
T.J. Sapp's 28 points wasn't enough for the Racers (27-5), who saw their 25- game win streak come to a crashing halt. His three-point try at the buzzer was well short.
"The one thing I will say, is this is an NCAA Tournament team," noted Murray State head coach Steve Prohm. "We're very deserving; if you've watched us play then you would agree. I hope we get a chance, these guys deserve it, but if not we'll be gracious about it and play as a No. 1 seed in the NIT."
Barnette snapped an 80-all tie on a triple with under 2 1/2 minutes remaining, and after Sapp converted a pair of free throws, Bradshaw hit a layup for an 85-82 contest.
Both sides then turned the ball over, and after a Jonathan Fairell steal, Cameron Payne connected from long distance for an 85-85 deadlock with just over a minute left.
Payne added two from the line around misses by Reece Chamberlain and Nick Smith, but following Smith's brick from beyond the arc, Belmont grabbed the offensive board and signaled a time out.
That set the stage for Barnette, who drained the game winning shot from the right of the top of the key off a dish from Chamberlain.
"Nick set a great screen and Reece [Chamberlain] made a great pass and I just let it fly and it went in," said Barnette. "It's surreal. I am proud of my teammates and my coaching staff."
Belmont led 13-6 early on, but Murray State rebounded to forge a 33-33 deadlock on Justin Seymour's trey. The schools traded turns with the lead briefly before a 12-5 run gave the Racers a 49-41 edge at the break.
The Bruins officially erased that deficit when Bradshaw hit a layup with 14:36 to go for a 56-55 lead.
From there, neither side led by more than three points. Barnett was good again from long range for a 70-67 Belmont edge with 8 1/2 remaining, but Payne clicked on a 3 to give Murray State a 79-77 edge almost three minutes later.
Murray State finished 11-of-28 from beyond the arc, while Belmont made just 15-of-38 attempts ...Payne totaled 20 points and 10 assists for the Racers, while Evan Bradds picked up 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Bruins.