Led by strong perimeter shooting, the Belmont Bruins defeated the Saints of Maryville, Missouri by 39 points in their home opener Tuesday night.
In front of an above-average First on the Floor crowd, the men’s basketball team made 14 3-pointers and 56 percent of their shots in their 88-49 win.
“I’m glad that over the years we’ve gotten more people to come out and support us in our first game, and I think that it goes to show that this team is growing, especially with the change in conference,” senior guard Ian Clark said.
Both teams started slowly with a scoreless first three minutes until Bruin guard Ian Clark sank a three from the right perimeter.
“We started making shots and it looked like we would get a pretty good lead, but I think it’s a matter of getting used to a defense you never see,” said head coach Rick Byrd.
Blake Jenkins and Trevor Noack continued the momentum with threes of their own, leading an 8-0 scoring run.
At the six-minute mark, the Division II team began to cut back on Belmont’s lead to 22-19 with a trey from guard Asa Toney.
Not to be outdone, Clark responded with another trey to take the lead back to six.
Clark and Kerron Johnson scored 26 of the Bruins’ first half points to give them a 43-30 lead.
“They’re the heart and soul of our team, and if they don’t play well, we’re going to have a hard time winning games. They’re both exceptional players,” Byrd said.
The Bruins began the second half much like the first, scoring its first points near the 18-minute mark off of a three and foul shot from Johnson to rekindle the team’s offense.
Clark, Johnson and Noack all scored 10 or more points five minutes into in the second half. Maryville’s Gerald Shaw was the only player in double figures for the Saints in the game.
Maryville would continue to play slowly for the rest of the game andy were outscored by Belmont 45-19 in the second half.
“We struggled early in practices and everything, and I think that it shows if we just persevere through it and work hard, it plays out,” Clark said. “We’ve got shooters. That’s what we build our team around, and some days, we’re going to have games where we are going to miss, some games we won’t be able to make a shot, and luckily, today was one of those good days.”
With the win the Bruins improved to 2-0 on the season. Belmont’s next game will be Sunday night at Stanford at 8:00 p.m. central. The game will be televised on the Pac-12 Network.