Disregard Lipscomb’s so-called inexperience, and Belmont’s undefeated record in Atlantic Sun play. Part one of this year’s Battle of the Boulevard was just that—a battle where the Belmont Bruins would fall to their cross-town rival 85-74 in front of a crowd of 5,227 at the Curb on Friday night.
“We lost our composure from the beginning. We should have been the team playing with composure and I didn’t feel like we did 40 minutes worth really,” said Belmont head coach Rick Byrd,
Belmont came out of the gates dominating both sides of the ball. In the early minutes of the game, treys from guards Drew Hanlen and Ian Clark gave the Bruins their first lead of the game (10-7). In those same four minutes, the Bruins would obtain five rebounds in comparison to Lipscomb’s one.
The Bison would recover though, leading Belmont by as much as 5 points at the 7:25 mark thanks to Lipscomb veterans Jordan Burgason and Jacob Arnett.
The remainder of the half would result in a relentless offensive showdown between the Bruins and Bison. After back to back 3-point misses from Brandon Baker near the 5:14 mark, Clark sparked the Bruin offense, scoring 14 out of his 28 points for the game.
With a 39-36 lead over Lipscomb, the Bruins would enter the locker room to prepare for a rocky second half.
The Bruins continued their offensive momentum, jumping out to a 49-41 lead within the first four minutes of the half, but just couldn’t maintain it.
Adding to the game’s intensity, Malcolm Smith for Lipscomb committed a costly technical foul, shoving Brandon Baker to the Belmont sideline, allowing Clark to sink two free throws, giving the Bruins a 55-45 lead with 14:53 to go.
In addition to Clark’s hot shooting, senior guard Mick Hedgepeth scored his 1000th career point in the paint against Lipscomb, allowing the Bruins to lead by as many as 11 points in the second half.
Not ready to give up, Lipscomb would cut back on Belmont’s lead, going ahead of the Bruins 75-68 after guard Deonte Alexander would sink an open three.
“Momentum is a real deal. I don’t know whether the technical created some. If anything, it should have energized us more than it did them.” said Byrd
Lipscomb would go on a 28-6 scoring run, with 10 points coming from free throws made in the final two minutes.
Belmont’s attempt to mount a comeback fell short, giving the Bruins their first conference loss as well as their first loss at home for the season.
“This is the toughest game to lose, a Lipscomb game on our floor. But we’ve won the league losing a Lipscomb game on our floor. It’s one loss out of 18 conference games, and two or three days down the road we’ll realize that.”
Belmont’s next game will be January 14 hosting Stetson at 7:00 at the Curb Event Center.