Morehead State tops Nevada in CBI finals opener
MOREHEAD, Ky. — Lyonell Gaines scored 27 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead Morehead State to an 86-83 victory over Nevada in the opening game of the College Basketball Invitational finals on Monday night.
Game 2 of the best-of-three series will be played Wednesday at Reno, Nevada. If necessary, a third game would be played Friday at Reno.
“I should have made more free throws,” said Gaines, a 6-foot-6 senior, who shot 11 of 15 from the field and 5 of 9 at the foul line. “Overall, I think I played very well. I’m just trying to do whatever it takes for my team to win.”
Morehead (23-12) has won 11 of its past 12 games, the lone loss coming to Tennessee Martin in the semifinals of the Ohio Valley Conference tournament. Included in that span is a pair of CBI road victories.
The Eagles mounted their biggest lead of the game at 83-76 on Gaines’ 3-point play with 2:59 left.
Nevada (22-14) pulled within 86-83 when Tyron Criswell hit a layup with 58 seconds left.
Morehead State’s Xavier Moon, who came into the game 22 of 22 from the free-throw line during CBI play, missed his only attempts of the game with 31 seconds left.
Nevada had two shots to tie, but Marqueze Coleman’s 3-pointer hit the rim with 19 seconds left.
After a timeout with 4.9 seconds left, Cameron Oliver’s 3-point attempt with two seconds left missed, the rebound going to Morehead State’s Ronnye Beamon.
“We’ve been so tough mentally down the stretch,” Eagles coach Sean Woods said. “We’ve got veteran guards that are not going to turn it over. You see what we do — we spread you out and I just say ‘Go! Go make a play and put them back on their heels.’ And every time we do that, something good happens.”
DeJuan Marrero added 15 points for the winners and Brent Arrington had 13.
Nevada’s Criswell led all scorers with 31 points. Eric Cooper came off the bench to add 15. Oliver added 12 points for his 11th straight game in double figures. Coleman had 10 points.
Both teams led by as many as six points in the first half, with Morehead State taking a 38-36 lead at intermission.
Gaines had a first-half double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds. He came in averaging 13.4 points and 8.3 rebounds over his previous eight games, with three double-doubles.
“In the last two months, he’s the reason why we’ve had success, because he’s playing like a madman,” Woods said. “Like I thought he could. He’s going out with a bang, and I’m so proud of him.”