Morehead State battles until the end, tops Eastern Kentucky, 78-77

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RICHMOND, Ky. - As it always is, the battle between Morehead State and Eastern Kentucky in men's hoops was fierce on Saturday night, but sophomore Malek Green hit a pair of free throws with 20 seconds left, and the Eagle defense forced a missed shot at the buzzer as the Eagles defeated the Colonels, 78-77.

(Photo: Morehead State Athletics)

Morehead State finished the regular season at 8-10 in the OVC and 12-19 overall. EKU closes its campaign at 13-18 and 6-12 in the league.

"So proud of my guys," said head coach Preston Spradlin. "When the preseason polls came out, everyone had us 10th, 11th and 12th in the league, and we secured fifth place tonight. We did what we needed to do to secure this win. Can't say enough about our guys. We had guys doing things tonight we weren't doing (against Murray State Thursday). They listened and they made the right adjustments tonight. This gives us some momentum and some confidence heading into Evansville. Our women are going to be playing Wednesday too right before us, so everyone come over to Evansville and show your MSU pride and support our teams."

The Eagles did secure the fifth seed for the upcoming OVC Tournament in Evansville and will play on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. ET.

After EKU's Jomaru Brown, who had 31 points, hit a jumper with 1:19 left, it gave the hosts a 77-74 lead. Twenty-five seconds later, sophomore James Baker drained a two-pointer to pull the Eagles to within 77-76.

EKU's senior big-man, Nick Mayo, missed a triple at the 25-second mark, and Green secured the rebound. He was fouled by Brown and hit both charity tosses to account for the final margin.

Mayo missed another jumper as time wound down, and senior guard A.J. Hicks grabbed the board. He did miss both ensuing free throws, and EKU had one last chance. Mayo's potential game-winner clanked off the backboard though.

Hicks led the Eagles with 21 points and four assists. Sophomore De'von Cooper pitched in 12, while Green scored 10 and corralled eight boards. Junior Djimon Henson was big too, with 11 points off the bench.

The Eagles nailed 10 three-pointers and out-rebounded the Colonels 38-28. MSU also connected on a solid 14-of-18 from the free throw line.

MSU shot 49 percent (27-of-55) tonight, including 53 percent in the first half when they went to the break leading 41-40.