Men's Basketball Defeats MTSU in Double OT Thriller
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Where to begin. Belmont men's basketball needed heart, toughness, and eight three-pointers from senior Jordan Campbell (Indianapolis, Ind.) to outlast Middle Tennessee State Tuesday night, 88-87, in double overtime.
The Bruins, who were wrapping up a busy stretch of four games in eight days, got off to an unusually slow start in front of another strong and supportive home crowd.
After trailing 6-2 early, the Bruins went on a 9-0 run, capped by a conventional three-point play from junior Scott Saunders (New Orleans, La.).
Two consecutive three-pointers from sophomore Ian Clark (Memphis, Tenn.) increased the lead to 19-12 midway through the first half.
But after the lead inched to 27-17 on two Saunders free throws, the visiting Blue Raiders trimmed the margin. A James Washington three-pointer got MTSU within 28-24 with 2:47 left in the half.
The Bruins closed the half strong, as two Saunders free throws pushed the lead back to eight, 38-30. And after forcing a turnover from Washington on subsequent pressure defense, Saunders took a feed from sophomore Kerron Johnson (Huntsville, Ala.) and appeared poised to send the Bruins to the locker room up 10 in the final seconds.
But the shot rimmed off, and Washington took an outlet pass and speed-dribbled past the entire Bruin defense to score a courageous, contested basket at the rim, right as the half expired. Belmont led 38-32 at halftime.
It was a strange first half, as Belmont went just 2-for-15 on two-point field goal attempts, but 7-for-13 from behind the arc. The Bruins also held MTSU to 43 percent shooting.
A straight on three-pointer from sophomore Trevor Noack (Keller, Texas) upped the Bruin lead to 45-37 with 17:48 left in regulation.
But teams traded defensive and rebounding haymakers, not giving an inch. A key turning point occurred with 10:59 left in regulation, as Clark picked up his fourth personal foul.
In fact, behind Campbell's fine outside shooting, Belmont claimed a 64-51 lead with 8:42 left in regulation.
Another swing of momentum took place at the five minute mark, as an open three-point attempt from junior Drew Hanlen (St. Louis, Mo.) violently rimmed out - which would have put the Bruins up 70-59. Instead, moments later, Hanlen's Gateway City counterpart Washington buried a wing three-pointer to get the Blue Raiders within 67-62.
A basket from senior Jon House (Guelph, Ont. Canada) on a nice feed from Johnson staved off the MTSU surge at 69-64, but only momentarily.
Two Jason Jones free throws and a Trevor Charless basket got MTSU within 69-68 with 1:50 left in regulation. After teams traded defensive stops, Hanlen missed a three-pointer and the Blue Raiders claimed the rebound.
Setting up a possession to take the lead, Rod Emanuel drove baseline and leaned into a mid range jumpshot on Clark. Clark was whistled for a shooting foul, and fouled out of the game on the play. Emanuel made both free throws to give the Blue Raiders a 70-69 lead with 34 seconds left - their first advantage since 6-5.
Belmont worked its next possession and found Hedgepeth at the rim, where he would be fouled by J.T. Sulton. Hedgepeth made one of two free throws to tie the score at 70 with 13 seconds left.
On the inbounds play that followed, Bruin pressure forced an errant pass to Trevor Charles, which he bobbled out of bounds, giving possession back to the Bruins.
Following a Rick Byrd timeout, the Bruins slipped Hedgepeth to the basket with an apparent game-winning layin, but Charles recovered and skied to block the attempt away.
The Bruins had one final try to win in regulation, but Campbell's three-point attempt in front of the Bruin bench rimmed off.
Washington buried a trey to give the Blue Raiders an early 73-70 edge in the first overtime, before Belmont battled to take a 76-75 lead on two House free throws.
One Charles free throw and a short jumper from Jason Jones gave MTSU a 78-76 lead with 56 seconds left in the first overtime.
Campbell once again rose up, burying a deep, straight on three-pointer to put Belmont ahead 79-78 with 31 seconds left in the first overtime.
After the Bruins forced Charles into an interior miss and claimed the rebound, Kerron Johnson was fouled with six seconds left in the first extra session. He would make one of two free throws to extend the Bruin lead to 80-78.
Emanuel then proceeded to drive the length of the floor and score a layin with 0.4 seconds left, forcing a second overtime tied at 80.
With both teams laying it all on the line, Bruin depth proved advantageous in the second overtime. Two straight interior baskets from Hedgepeth and two free throws from Johnson gave Belmont an 86-80 lead midway through the second extra period.
But the Blue Raiders would not go away. Two Washington free throws and two Jones free throws cut the margin to two with 1:38 left.
Campbell and Mann would miss shots in Belmont's next possession, but offensive rebounds from House and Hedgepeth preserved the possession. The Bruins would use clock but suffer a shot clock violation with 17 seconds left.
Trailing by two, the Blue Raiders turned to Washington, who faked a potential game-winning three-pointer and drove the lane. But as Washington elevated to shoot or pass, he crashed into two Bruin players and was called for charging with six seconds left in double overtime.
House would be fouled on the next inbounds play, and he would all but secure victory by making two free throws with four seconds left, 88-84.
James Gallman made a three-pointer as time expired to provide the final margin.
Belmont would win despite shooting a season-low 34 percent (21-for-61) from the field. The Bruins outrebounded MTSU, 44-41, and forced 18 Blue Raider turnovers.
Campbell led three Bruins in double figures with a career-high 24 points on 8-for-14 three-point shooting. Clark scored 15 points, while Hedgepeth had 10 points and nine rebounds.
Jones, Sulton and Washington each scored 19 for MTSU (4-5).
Belmont (6-2, 1-0 Atlantic Sun) is off for semester exams. The Bruins return to action Thursday, Dec. 16 at home against Kennesaw State. Tip-off is set for 7:15 pm CT from the Curb Event Center.
The live play-by-play of Voice of the Bruins Kevin Ingram can be heard on the Bruin Sports Network, with live video streaming via ASun.TV.