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Bruins Outlast Stetson

Bruins Outlast Stetson

Feb. 18, 2010

Box Score

DeLAND, FLA. - - Trailing by eight with seven minutes remaining, Belmont men's basketball closed the game on a 24-7 run to defeat Stetson Thursday, 79-70.

The Bruins, winners of five consecutive games coming in, had won nine of their last 10 meetings with Stetson. But the host Hatters rode a career night from A.J. Smith in defeating Belmont in DeLand a year ago. And this night, Smith would be heard from again.

Early on, both teams brought solid halfcourt defense to the table as a seesaw affair developed. The lead changed hands eight times in the first 10 minutes as neither team would lead by more than three points early.

After Ridge Graham gave Stetson a 20-18 lead, Belmont scored 10 unanswered points to take a modicum of control. Five different Bruins scored during the run - freshman Ian Clark (Memphis, Tenn.), freshman Brandon Baker (Milford, Ohio), junior Jordan Campbell (Indianapolis, Ind.), sophomore Mick Hedgepeth (Crossville, Ala.), and junior Jon House (Guelph, Ont., Canada) - as the Bruins went up 28-20 with 3:39 left in the half.

Though Hedgepeth and House would score late in the half, the Hatters inched within 32-29 at halftime.

Based on the halftime stats, one would have thought the Bruins had built a larger lead; a plus-nine rebounding advantage, 15 first half points from Hedgepeth, and 35 percent Hatter shooting.

But Clark managed just three first half field goal attempts and the Hatters spread their scoring around.

After Smith tied the game 48 seconds into the second half, Clark buried two straight triples to keep the Bruins on top.

Moments later, Campbell provided a timely three-pointer to put Belmont up 41-35 with 16:18 left.

Following another tough Smith drive, sophomore Scott Saunders (New Orleans, La.) scored in the post before Clark swooped to the hoop for a nice conventional three-point play and a 46-37 Bruin lead with 14:25 to go.

Stetson cut the lead in half before sophomore Drew Hanlen (St. Louis, Mo.) sank a wing three-pointer to put the Bruins ahead 50-42 with 12:46 remaining.

But behind Smith and Ridge Graham, Stetson made a significant - borderline "in-the-zone" - run.

The Hatters ripped off a 21-5 spurt over the next six minutes, and claimed a 63-55 lead with 6:45 left on a Graham conventional three-point play.

With the Stetson student section enlivened and Belmont in desperate need of a lift, the team came together and closed with purpose.

Hanlen whirlpooled home a much-needed three-point field goal to spark a lightning quick 9-0 Belmont reply.

Freshman Kerron Johnson (Huntsville, Ala.) capped the run with a steal and coast-to-coast layin to give the Bruins a 64-63 lead with 4:53 left.

Smith made made one free throw to tie the score at 64, but the Bruins kept coming. A gorgeous Clark baseline drive and floater gave Belmont a 66-64 edge with 3:29 left.

Then after a missed front-end of the one-and-one from Graham, House made two clutch free throws to extend the lead to 68-64 with 3:01 to go.

Following an exchange of defensive stops, Clark tipped in his own driving miss to stretch the lead to six.

Clark then proceeded to steal a wing entry pass and saved the ball into Campbell. Belmont capped the spirited comeback on a backdoor layin from House off timely Hanlen feed to lead 72-64 with 1:31 to go. All told, the Bruins went on a 17-1 run after trailing 63-55.

The Bruins went 7-for-8 from the free throw line in the final 45 seconds to secure the victory.

All told, Belmont shot 46 percent (28-for-61) from the field - including 6-for-20 from three-point distance. The Bruins outrebounded Stetson 46-24, their biggest rebounding margin of the season.

Clark recorded his first career double-double of 21 points and 10 rebounds. Hedgepeth added 19 points and six rebounds. Hanlen had nine points, seven rebounds, six assists and four steals.

Smith led Stetson (6-21, 4-14 Atlantic Sun) with 23 points.

Belmont (17-10, 12-5 Atlantic Sun) has won six consecutive games and eight of its last nine. The Bruins return to action Saturday, Feb. 20 at Florida Gulf Coast. Tip-off is set for 4:15 pm CT.

The live play-by-play can be heard on the Bruin Sports Network, with video streaming via ASun.TV.