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Austin Peay wins 2016 Ohio Valley Conference basketball tournament

The Austin Peay Governors are the first team to punch their ticket to the Big Dance.

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

The Austin Peay Governors toppled the Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks Saturday night in Nashville, 83-73, to win the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament championship. In so doing the No. 8-seed Governors punched the year's first ticket to the NCAA Tournament. Dave Loos' club had previously upset top-ranked Belmont Friday in a 97-96 overtime thriller, before toppling the conference No. 2 seed in the final.

The win launches Austin Peay back to the tournament for the first time since 2008, when as a No. 15 seed they lost in the first round to the No. 2 Texas Longhorns. On the assumption that Belmont would take the OVC tournament and earn the conference's automatic bid, Chris Dobbertean projected the Bruins to land as a No. 15 seed in the Big Dance field.

This year's trip marks the Governors' seventh March Madness bid and third under Loos. Loos' previous journeys to the Dance have all ended in the first round, with losses to Louisville in 2003 and Georgia Tech in 1996.

Jared Savage (24 points) and Josh Robinson (20 points) led Austin Peay in the victory.