NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Corey Walden scored 22 of his career-high 29 points in the second half to help Eastern Kentucky upset top-seeded Belmont 79-73 Saturday night for the Ohio Valley Conference tournament championship and an NCAA tournament berth.
The Colonels (24-9) won their seventh straight game in clinching their first OVC tournament title since 2007 and their eighth trip to the NCAAs overall.
Glenn Cosey added 23 points for Eastern Kentucky. Tarius Johnson had 15 before fouling out.
Belmont (24-9) missed out on adding its second consecutive tournament title, and the Bruins will miss the NCAA tournament for just the third time in the past nine years and first since 2010.
J.J. Mann, the OVC player of the year, led Belmont with 18 points. Evan Bradds and Drew Windler each added 14, and Reece Chamberlin had 11.
Eastern Kentucky never trailed, and Belmont tied it up only twice with the last time at 54. The Colonels scored the next eight points.