NASHVILLE, Tenn. - - Belmont University men's basketball rode the strong play of junior Dylan Windler (Indianapolis, Ind.) and senior Amanze Egekeze (Lake in the Hills, Ill.) to post a 69-60 victory over Vanderbilt Monday night at the Curb Event Center.
An arena-record crowd of 5,266 witnessed Belmont's fourth victory over an SEC opponent, and second straight.
It had been 5,106 days since the Bruins hosted a Power 5 conference opponent, coincidentally the same Commodores who opened the Curb Event Center in November of 2003.
Belmont was thirsting for another signature victory; in part from last year's bitter taste following a cold shooting setback at Vanderbilt to open the season, but also from Friday's gut-wrenching loss in the final seconds at Washington.
And simply put, Windler and Egekeze would not let the Bruins be denied.
After a Jeff Roberson 3-pointer gave the Commodores an early 11-6 lead, Egekeze buried a 3-pointer of his own to ignite the Belmont offense.
Egekeze would score eight points during a run midway through the first half that gave Belmont a 16-13 lead.
Meanwhile, Belmont's defense stifled Vanderbilt; forcing the visitors into contested shots and hurried passes.
Five more Egekeze points increased the lead to 23-16 with 5:33 left in the first half.
Saben Lee ended Vanderbilt's near eight-minute field goal drought with a driving layin.
After consecutive Windler drives, Egekeze closed his exceptional first half in grand style, burying a baseline 3-pointer to send the Bruins to the locker room with a 32-27 halftime lead.
Belmont shot 41 percent (12-for-29) in the opening 20 minutes. The Bruins held Vanderbilt to eight first half field goals, while forcing 10 turnovers.
Egekeze led Belmont with 18 first half points.
Senior Austin Luke (Rowlett, Texas) showcased more of his pinpoint passing, including a crosscourt assist to Windler for a 3-pointer to open the second half scoring.
Vanderbilt closed within 37-34 on a Joe Toye basket, but a Windler backdoor layin and a Nick Hopkins 3-pointer pushed the Bruin margin back to eight, 44-36, with 13:03 remaining.
The Commodores again inched within five, but a Windler steal sparked another Hopkins 3-pointer.
The boisterous Belmont student section and impassioned Bruin fans – clad in their CODE RED t-shirts – would have to stave off one final Vanderbilt charge.
Lee closed the gap within five points on three separate occasions, but each time, Belmont has a stern reply.
Consecutive driving baskets from junior Kevin McClain (Jennings, Fla.) and Luke increased the Bruin lead to 10, 60-50, with 2:19 left.
Belmont closed the game out confidently, soaking in the cheers from the record-setting home crowd as the final seconds ticked away.
All told, Belmont shot 41 percent (22-for-54) from the field.
Belmont held the Commodores to 35 percent shooting and forced 15 turnovers.
Windler posted his second consecutive double-double to open the season with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Egekeze added 22 points and seven rebounds.
McClain added nine points and five rebounds.
Saben Lee led Vanderbilt (1-1) with 19 points.
Belmont (1-1) returns to game action Thursday, Nov. 16 at Middle Tennessee. Tip-off is set for 6:30 p.m. CT. The game will be broadcast on Stadium.
NOTES: The announced crowd of 5,266 surpasses the previous Curb Event Center record of 5,227 (vs. Lipscomb, 1/6/12) … Windler entered the season with three career double-doubles … Egekeze threatened his career-high of 26 points (vs. Jacksonville State, 1/19/17) … Belmont outscored Vanderbilt, 32-20, in the paint … Belmont has now defeated Missouri, Alabama, Georgia and Vanderbilt from the SEC ... Belmont is 91-6 in its last 97 home games.
In case you missed it, @BelmontMBB is back and they beat Vanderbilt. Check out some highlights from last night's game. @GoBelmontBruins #itsBRUINtime— Belmont University (@BelmontUniv) November 14, 2017
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