NASHVILLE — With the game clock under 25 seconds, the shot clock down to five, his team nursing a 57-55 lead, Zac Swansey set up for a three-point shot.
Thus, fourth-seeded Tennessee Tech knocked off top-seeded and defending champion Murray State 64-59 Friday in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament semifinals.
The Golden Eagles (20-11) will meet the winner of Friday's late game between second-seeded Morehead State and third-seeded Austin Peay in Saturday's finals in Nashville Municipal Auditorium.
"The last 30 seconds was probably the longest 30 seconds of basketball I've played," said Swansey, a 6-foot-1 redshirt junior from Dunwoody, Ga. "We got a defensive rebound. We wanted to take a good shot and we wanted to spread the floor. I give a lot of credit to Jud Dillard. ... Jud set an excellent ball screen for me and gave me just a little bit of daylight to focus on the rim and, luckily, I knocked it down."
Tech is the fourth OVC team to reach 20 wins this season, a first for the league.
Kevin Murphy led the Golden Eagles with 19 points. Swansey finished with eight points and 11 assissts. Dillard had 14 points and 11 rebounds.
The Racers (23-8) were led by Ivan Aska with 15 points. Isacc Miles scored 11. Ed Daniel, limited to 15 minutes because of foul problems, had six points and a team-leading six rebounds.
Murray led by as many as six, the last time at 14-8, before Tech got in gear.
The Golden Eagles tied at 16 when Alfred Jones scored from close range with 6:44 left in the half.
Trailing 20-16, Tech outscored Murray 13-4 to take a 29-24 halftime lead.
Tech built its lead to 10, 44-34, when Murphy knocked down a jumper with 10:51 left.
Murray battled back to tie at 51 and took a 53-51 lead when Miles made a pair of free throws with 3:31 left.
Murphy hit a leaner to tie it with 2:46 left and Swansey fed Dillard for the go-ahead layup with 2:05 left.
Murray forged a final tie, 55-all, when B.J. Jenkins dropped in a leaner with 1:41 left.
Dillard converted both ends of a one-and-one with 1:27 left.
After Aska missed a pair of free throws, Swansey hit his big three-pointer.
UT Martin 79, Morehead State 69: Freshman guards Heather Butler and Jasmine Newsome scored 21 and 20 points, respectively, to lead the second-seeded Skyhawks.
UTM (20-10) also got a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds by 6-1 freshman reserve Perica Glenn.
Third-seeded Morehead (21-10) was led by two-time OVC Player of the Year Chynna Bozeman, who scored 25 points in her final game as an Eagle. Courtney Lumpkin added 18 points and seven assists, while Ashar Harris had 11 points and 15 rebounds.
The lead changed hands six times in the first half. A late 9-0 run helped UTM to a 33-26 halftime lead.
The Skyhawks extended their lead to 11 early in the second half, but Morehead went on a 16-6 run to pull to within 48-47 with 11:20 left.
UTM responded with a 17-2 flurry, the last 13 in a row, to lead 65-49 with 4:17 left. Morehead never came closer than eight from there.
"UT Martin has a tremendous, tremendous basketball team that really stretches you defensively to do a lot of things that you might not want to do, and have to extend defensively to limit three-point shots," Eagles Coach Tom Hodges said.
Tennessee Tech 65, Austin Peay 56: Tacarra Hayes and Rachel Glidden scored 21 and 20 points to lead top-seeded Tech. Hayes added 11 rebounds and seven assists.
Nicole Olszewski scored 14 for fifth-seeded Peay. Whitney Hanley added 12.