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Clark Leads Bruins Past North Florida

Clark Leads Bruins Past North Florida

Feb. 7, 2010

Box Score

NASHVILLE, TENN. - - Behind a career-high tying 31 points from freshman Ian Clark (Memphis, Tenn.), Belmont men's basketball defeated North Florida Sunday, 70-56.

A short jumper from Brad Haugabrook gave the Ospreys a 2-0 lead 31 seconds in. But when Clark answered 21 seconds later with a deep three-pointer, the Bruins would not trail again. Moreover, the shot served as a precursor of things to come offensively for Clark.

Two more triples in a 22 second span increased the Bruin lead to 11-2 two and a half minutes in. Belmont defense into Clark offense forced North Florida head coach Matthew Driscoll into calling two timeouts in the first five minutes of the game.

A steal from freshman Kerron Johnson (Huntsville, Ala.) and a driving layin from Jon House (Guelph, Ont., Canada) highlighted a 9-0 Belmont run that extended the lead to 22-9 with 12:20 left in the half.

But just as Belmont appeared on the verge of breaking free, the Ospreys hunkered down and worked back into the game.

Switching defenses and the shooting of Jerron Granberry got North Florida within 31-26 with 1:46 in the half.

But two timely baskets from sophomore Mick Hedgepeth (Crossville, Ala.) sent the Bruins to the locker room up nine, 35-26.

It was a strange first half box score, as Clark's 16 and Hedgepeth's 10 accounted for all but nine of the Bruin points. Belmont forced 10 North Florida turnovers, but the Bruins were outrebounded by two and failed to attempt one first half free throw.

Following a darting bank shot from House to open the second half scoring, Clark ripped the nets from long distance twice more to extend the lead to 43-27 with 17:08 left.

But an Eni Cuka trey capped a quick 8-0 Osprey run to cut the lead in half.

North Florida inched within seven, 47-40, on two David Juene free throws before Clark rang the bell once more.

Three-pointers numbers eight and nine for the freshman from Memphis stretched the lead back to 58-44 with 8:44 remaining. Having scored 31 of Belmont's 58 points to that point, Clark received a standing ovation as he was substituted out moments later.

Belmont's defense remained stout, and Johnson and Hedgepeth carried the scoring torch from Clark in the final stretch as North Florida would not get closer than 14 points the remainder of the game.

After putting on a remarkable shooting display in the first 31 minutes, Clark would only attempt one two point field goal the rest of the way.

All told, the Bruins shot 46 percent (26-for-56) from the field - including 13-for-27 from three-point distance.

Belmont forced 20 North Florida turnovers.

Clark, aside from tying his career-high in points, became the first freshman in all of college basketball this season to make nine three-point field goals in a game. He also threatened the Curb Event Center record for three-point field goals in a game, 10, by Andy Wicke against Gardner-Webb in Feb. of 2007.

Hedgepeth added 14 points and eight rebounds, while House continued his fine play with eight points, six assists and five rebounds.

Cuka led North Florida (11-13, 6-8 Atlantic Sun) with 14 points.

Belmont (15-10, 10-5 Atlantic Sun) returns to action Saturday, Feb. 13 at USC Upstate. Tip-off is set for 1 pm CT.

The live play-by-play from Voice of the Bruins Kevin Ingram can be heard on the Bruin Sports Network, with video streaming via ASun.TV.