MOREHEAD — They were beautiful to watch, the long, long three-pointers that alternately fired up the home crowd as they singed the nets and inspired the visitors to rally, rally and rally again.
The teams combined for 26 three-pointers in Morehead State's 91-72 victory over Eastern Kentucky in the first round of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Tuesday night.
The Eagles will get a rematch with regular-season champion Tennessee-Martin in the semifinals Friday at Nashville. Martin defeated the Eagles 79-65 last Saturday to clinch the title and top seed.
Morehead shot 54.5 percent behind the arc and 54.1 percent overall. Eastern's Josh Taylor led all the long shooters with six threes, accounting for 18 of his game-high 26 points.
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Morehead had many other things to show in reaching the OVC semifinals for the first time since 2004.
The Eagles (17-15) flew through Johnson Arena for innumerable alley-oop dunks timed perfectly by Morehead's guards, especially Demonte Harper. He lacked only two rebounds for the first triple-double in school history — 16 points, 12 assists, eight boards.
Harper now will get to play on the OVC's biggest stage in his hometown, "a wonderful feeling," he said.
Morehead's frontline did its part by ruling the boards. Center Kenneth Faried outrebounded Eastern all by himself, 17-16.
"Being plus-29 (on the boards) is unheard of in a conference game," winning coach Donnie Tyndall said. "We were giving ourselves a second chance and limiting them to one shot only."
Despite facing outrageous deficits throughout the game, the Colonels fought back, even taking the lead at 59-58 midway through the second half after being down 14 at the break.
The Eagles responded with 16 points in a row to secure their semifinal spot.
A free throw tied the score, then Leon Buchanan soared for a pass and dunked. A minute later, he did the same and added a free throw.
Harper drilled a pair of threes. Buchanan ended the barrage with two more layups on his way to 20 points.
"Coach told us they would go on runs," Buchanan said. "We kept our composure and played it possession by possession."
Teammate Maze Stallworth was Morehead's leader with 21 points, fueled by 5-for-9 shooting from long range. Faried had his 21st double-double of the season with 15 points and those 17 rebounds.
While the Eagles celebrated, the Colonels' Mike Rose watched his college career end. He scored 12 points on 4-for-13 shooting. Second nationally in three-point shooting (48.7 percent), he was 2-for-7.
"I've enjoyed a lot of moments," he said. "The basketball aspect (of college) is over. I hate it."