MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - - Belmont men's basketball forced 23 turnovers and held the opposition to 26 percent shooting in defeating Towson, 87-41, Saturday in the Regional Games of the EA Sports Maui Invitational.
The Bruins were game-ready and focused as usual, but interior shots and free throws uncharacteristically rimmed off early.
Leading 9-8 five minutes in, Belmont used a three-pointer from sophomore J.J. Mann (Smyrna, Ga.) to initiate an 11-0 run and push the margin to 20-8 midway through the first half.
Following a Jervon Pressley jumpshot, senior Drew Hanlen (St. Louis, Mo.) and freshman Spencer Turner (Bloomington, Ind.) combined on 11 points to increase the Bruin lead to 38-17 with 4:13 in the half.
All the while, suffocating Belmont defense forced turnovers, deflections or contested Towson shots. A baseline floater from junior Trevor Noack (Keller, Texas) helped give Belmont a 48-22 lead at halftime.
Belmont shot 44 percent (15-for-34) in the first half - including 7-for-17 from three-point distance. The Bruins scored 18 points off of 15 Tiger turnovers in the opening 20 minutes.
Junior Ian Clark (Memphis, Tenn.), senior Scott Saunders (New Orleans, La.) and Mann teamed up for a 13-0 Bruin run to open the second half. Belmont held Towson scoreless for the first 5:17 of the second half.
From there, Belmont showcased its deep, balanced roster, with 12 Bruins scoring in total. Redshirt freshmen Reece Chamberlain (Goodlettsville, Tenn.) and Chad Lang (Marietta, Ga.) would score their first collegiate points in the final minutes.
But aside from the strong defense and balanced scoring, Belmont's remarkable offensive efficiency and ball control was something to behold - especially given the Bruins' willingness to push the tempo and run.
After two turnovers in the opening 2:18 of the game, Belmont did not commit another turnover for the final 37:42 of regulation.
All told, Belmont shot 46 percent (31-for-68) from the field - including 13-for-32 from three-point distance. Belmont tallied 16 steals.
Mann led three Bruins in double figures with 13 points. Hanlen chipped in 12 points, five assists and four rebounds, while junior Kerron Johnson (Huntsville, Ala.) added 10 points, six assists, four steals and three rebounds.
Marcus Damas led Towson (0-3) with nine points.
Belmont (1-2) returns to action Sunday, Nov. 20 at Middle Tennessee State in the final contest of the EA Sports Maui Invitational Regional Games.
Tip-off is set for 3:30pm CT. The live play-by-play of Voice of the Bruins Kevin Ingram can be heard on the Bruin Sports Network.
Tickets are $10 for Sunday's session of games from the Murphy Center.