NASHVILLE, Tenn. - - In one of its most complete efforts of the season, Belmont men's basketball defeated Florida Gulf Coast, 95-53, Monday.
Picking up where it left off from a 55-point second half against Stetson Saturday, the Bruins seized control from the opening tip. Baskets from seniors Mick Hedgepeth (Crossville, Ala.), Drew Hanlen (St. Louis, Mo.), and Scott Saunders (New Orleans, La.) sparked Belmont to a 7-0 lead 80 seconds into the game.
After Dante Holmes got FGCU on the board, junior Kerron Johnson (Huntsville, Ala.) provided five quick points to increase the Bruin lead to 12-2 three and a half minutes in.
Belmont heavily pressured FGCU on the perimeter and in the paint, forcing the Eagles into turnovers and difficult shot attempts.
Consecutive three-pointers from freshman Spencer Turner (Bloomington, Ind.) and a free throw from Saunders increased the lead to 24-8 eight minutes in.
The Bruins continued to turn defense into offense as the half developed, as another Hanlen three-pointer and a strong Saunders finish in transition off a Johnson feed stretched the margin to 41-16 with 4:27 left in the half.
Belmont shot 50 percent (17-for-34) from the field in the first half - including 8-for-19 from three-point distance. The Bruins outrbounded FGCU, 24-11, and forced 11 Eagle turnovers.
Belmont also held FGCU to 28 percent shooting in the first half.
Eddie Murray provided FGCU two baskets early in the second half, but they were sandwiched around two more three-pointers from Hanlen and Clark.
A Clark steal and layin capped a 9-0 Bruin run to make the score 66-26 with 13:15 left.
Belmont head coach Rick Byrd went deep into the bench throughout the game, with all 15 roster members seeing playing time.
Redshirt freshman Chad Lang (Marietta, Ga.) scored eight second half points, while redshirt freshmen Reece Chamberlain (Goodlettsville, Tenn.) and Holden Mobley (Nashville, Tenn.) also scored in the second half for Belmont.
All told, Belmont shot 55 percent (35-for-64) from the field - including 14-for-31 from three-point distance. The Bruins outrebounded FGCU, 40-22, and handed out 27 assists on 35 made field goals.
12 Bruins scored in the game.
Clark and Johnson led balanced Belmont scoring with 13 points apiece. Mann scored 12.
Hanlen flirted with the program's first NCAA era triple-double, tallying nine points, a career-high nine assists, and a career-high eight rebounds.
Filip Cvjeticanin led FGCU (8-10, 4-4 Atlantic Sun) with 11 points.
Belmont (13-6, 6-1 Atlantic Sun) returns to action Saturday, Jan. 21 at USC Upstate. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m. CT.
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.