NASHVILLE, Tenn. - - In front of a boisterous Homecoming crowd, Belmont men's basketball defeated East Tennessee State, 80-58, Saturday night.
Averaging 89 points per game and 54 percent shooting over the past three weeks, the Bruins knew eye-popping offensive numbers would be a challenge against ETSU's rangy zone defense.
An opening three-pointer from senior Drew Hanlen (St. Louis, Mo.) and baskets from senior Scott Saunders (New Orleans, La.) and junior Adam Barnes (Clarksville, Tenn.) got Belmont off to a quick 7-0. Belmont held ETSU scoreless for the opening 4:24, until Tommy Hubbard scored on a driving bank shot.
ETSU tied the score at 15 on a Jarvis Jones jump shot, before the Bruins used another trademark run to break the game open.
Hanlen sank three shots from behind the arc during a 12-0 Belmont run which gave the Bruins a 27-15 lead with 4:12 left in the first half.
Junior Ian Clark (Memphis, Tenn.) added five points late in the half to help carry Belmont to a 37-21 halftime lead.
Belmont shot 50 percent (12-for-24) from the field in the first half - including 7-for-15 from three-point distance. The Bruins handed out 11 assists on 12 made field goals, while holding ETSU to 32 percent shooting in the opening 20 minutes.
Junior Kerron Johnson (Hunstville, Ala.) pushed the lead to 19 with a three-pointer early in the second half. Following an Adam Sollazzo layin, Clark and Saunders combined on eight points that stretched the lead to 51-25 with 14:44 remaining.
ETSU tried to work back into the game behind Isiah Brown and extended pressure defense, but Belmont remained poised and unselfish in finding scores.
The Bruins remained focused throughout, delivering from the free throw line and forcing contested Buc shots.
Belmont's largest lead, 80-53, came on a Johnson free throw with 1:59 left.
All told, Belmont shot 47 percent (23-for-49) from the field - including 11-for-28 from three-point distance. The Bruins outrebounded ETSU, 37-34, and held the Bucs to 37 percent shooting.
Clark led five Bruins in double figures with 18 points. Hanlen added 15 points and six assists, while Johnson tallied 15 points and four assists. Jenkins recorded his first career double-double with 12 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. Saunders also scored 12.
Sheldon Cooley led ETSU (13-13, 7-8 Atlantic Sun) with 13 points.
Belmont (21-7, 13-2 Atlantic Sun) returns to action Monday, Feb. 20 against USC Upstate. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. 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. Live video streaming will be available via ASun.TV.
Bruin seniors Hanlen, Hedgepeth and Saunders will be honored prior to the game.
NOTE: With 18 points, Ian Clark passed Andy Wicke and Steve Drabyn on the Bruins' NCAA era scoring list. Clark now stands fifth with 1,239 career points. He is three points from passing Adam Sonn for fourth.