NASHVILLE, Tenn. - - A nightmarish final 10 minutes doomed Belmont men's basketball Friday night, as the team dropped an 85-74 decision to Lipscomb.
A Curb Event Center record crowd of 5,227 was on hand to take in the 129th installment of the Belmont-Lipscomb series.
After an inauspicious start for the Bruins - an opening turnover leading to a Damarius Smith basket - the Bruins received three-pointers from senior Drew Hanlen (St. Louis, Mo.) and junior Ian Clark (Memphis, Tenn.) to take an 8-4 lead.
As many expected, an intense, uptempo game materialized. However, Belmont suffered a setback early as Bruin senior Scott Saunders (New Orleans, La.) was whistled for his second personal foul eight minutes into the game and was forced to the bench.
Strong play from Malcolm Smith and Jacob Arnett enabled the Bison to take a 24-18 lead with nine minutes remaining in the half.
Nevertheless, the Bruins withstood Lipscomb's early hot shooting, and closed the half well. A layin from senior Mick Hedgepeth (Crossville, Ala.) and a baseline three-pointer from Clark gave Belmont a 39-36 lead at halftime.
Belmont shot 45 percent (14-for-31) in the first half - including 8-for-17 from three-point distance. The Bison shot 57 percent from the field in the first half.
Clark had 14 points at the break for Belmont.
Junior Kerron Johnson (Huntsville, Ala.) and Saunders scored to push the lead to 43-36 with 17:31 left.
With Belmont leading 49-43 with 14:53 remaining, Clark was fouled by Justin Glenn on a driving layin. As the dust was settling, Malcolm Smith was charged with an off-ball technical foul.
Clark proceeded to make four consecutive free throws to give the Bruins a 53-43 lead.
The Bruins continued to find the range from the outside midway through the second half, as three-pointers by Clark and Mann gave Belmont a 66-54 lead with 9:12 left.
That is when poor Bruin decisions on both ends of the floor enabled Lipscomb to cut into the lead. Three Jordan Burgason free throws and a Deonte Alexander jumpshot got the Bison within 68-62 with 7:26 left.
After consecutive Johnson driving layins spun out, an Alexander baseline three-pointer and a Glenn jumpshot got Lipscomb within 68-67 with 6:00 left.
With Belmont still mired in an uncharacteristic offensive drought, Alexander banked in a 25 foot three-pointer to give Lipscomb its first lead since late in the first half, 70-68, with 3:53 left.
Misses by Saunders and Johnson and consecutive backdoor layins from Zavion Williams gave Lipscomb a 74-68 lead with 2:54 left.
Clark trimmed the margin to 75-71 with 2:01 to go, but an offensive rebound by Glenn and two subsequent free throws extended the margin back to six.
Lipscomb went 8-for-8 from the free throw line in the final minute to secure the victory.
All told, Belmont shot 39 percent from the field (26-for-66) - including 34 percent in the second half. The Bruins committed eight second half turnovers and were 5-for-19 from three-point distance.
Clark led three Bruins in double figures with a season-high 28 points, six rebounds, and five assists.
Arnett scored 17 points for Lipscomb (8-9, 3-2 Atlantic Sun).
Belmont (11-6, 4-1 Atlantic Sun) returns to action Saturday, Jan. 14 vs. Stetson. Tip-off is set for 7:15 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.