Men's Basketball Defeats USC Upstate to Cap Undefeated Home Season
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - - Belmont men's basketball defeated USC Upstate, 81-49, Saturday night to complete an undefeated regular season at home.
In front of a boisterous Homecoming crowd, the Bruins offered seniors Jordan Campbell (Indianapolis, Ind.), Jon House (Guelph, Ont., Canada) and Jonny Rice (Naperville, Ill.) plenty of memories in their final game at the Curb Event Center.
Early on, the visiting Spartans extinguished the Senior Day buzz, riding the play of Ricardo Glenn and Marquis Sloan to a 15-7 lead. But after a slow start - including missing seven of their first eight three-point field goal attempts - the Bruins would collectively find their stride.
Sparked by strong pressure defense, Belmont began to turn over USC Upstate and break the rhythm of the Spartans' methodical halfcourt offense.
The huge Bruin run continued, as sophomore Brandon Baker (Milford, Ohio) provided a conventional three-point play, before Clark and freshman Blake Jenkins (Knoxville, Tenn.) tacked on three-pointers to push the lead to 31-21 with 2:03 left in the half.
On the final possession of the first half, junior Drew Hanlen (St. Louis, Mo.) drove the lane and found Campbell open for another three-pointer, giving Belmont a 36-26 lead at halftime.
Belmont shot 42 percent (13-for-31) in the opening 20 minutes - including 7-for-17 from three-point distance. The Bruins outrebounded USC Upstate 19-12 in the first half.
But just when the Bruins appeared on the verge of seizing complete control, the Spartans inched closer.
Sloan scored in transition to cut the margin to 38-34 with 16:32 left.
From that point on, Belmont hit on all cylinders on both ends of the floor. Stifling defense led to high percentage shots for the Bruins, as Campbell and sophomore Kerron Johnson (Huntsville, Ala.) would sink three-point field goals in succession to stretch the lead to 47-34 with 14:50 to go.
After Torrey Craig got USC Upstate within 52-44, junior Scott Saunders (New Orleans, La.) made one free throw and Johnson added a determined steal and conventional three-point play to give Belmont a 56-44 edge with 9:10 left.
Campbell would sink another three-pointer and House would score down low to increase the lead to 15.
Tony Dukes made a three-pointer with 8:00 left to get the Spartans within 61-47, before the Bruins rattled off 20 unanswered points.
Eight Bruins would score during the run, including a baseline slam dunk from Jenkins and an acrobatic layin from sophomore Adam Barnes (Clarksville, Tenn.).
Campbell and House received warm ovations from Bruin fans as they exited the game in the final moments.
All told, Belmont shot 56 percent (30-for-54) from the field - including 15-for-27 from three-point distance. The Bruins handed out 20 assists and forced 17 USC Upstate turnovers.
Clark led three Bruins in double figures with 20 points. Campbell scored 15 points, while Johnson added 13 points, five assists and three steals.
Glenn led USC Upstate (4-24, 3-15 Atlantic Sun) with 12 points.
Belmont completes its regular season home schedule with a 12-0 record, becoming the first Atlantic Sun Conference team since Georgia State in 2000-01 to record a perfect home record for a season.
With the victory, the Bruins secure an outright Atlantic Sun Conference regular season championship. The team also ties the NCAA-era program record for single-season victories (25), first established in 2007-08.
Belmont (25-4, 17-1 Atlantic Sun) returns to action Thursday, Feb. 24 at Mercer. Tip-off is set for 6:30pm CT.
The live play-by-play of Voice of the Bruins Kevin Ingram can be heard on the Bruin Sports Network. Live video streaming will be available via ASun.TV.