NASHVILLE, Tenn. - - Behind 44 points in the paint and 21 forced turnovers, Belmont men's basketball defeated Austin Peay, 94-55, Monday night.
Building off of Friday's well-rounded performance in victory at Lipscomb, the Bruins took little time asserting itself on both ends of the floor.
Sophomore Blake Jenkins (Knoxville, Tenn.) made a baseline three-pointer to open Belmont's scoring, as the Bruins held Austin Peay scoreless for the opening 2:31.
After two Josh Terry free throws gave the Governors a brief 4-3 lead, Belmont proceeded to hold the visitors scoreless over the next four minutes during a spirited run.
Jenkins and senior Scott Saunders (New Orleans, La.) each delivered conventional three-point plays and junior Adam Barnes (Clarksville, Tenn.) scored on a determined drive. Sophomore J.J. Mann capped the 17-0 Bruin run with a baseline three-pointer to give Belmont a 20-4 lead with 13:43 left in the first half.
Strong defense and rebounding continued, enabling Belmont to get into transition. Three-pointers from freshman Reece Chamberlain (Goodlettsville, Tenn.) and junior Ian Clark (Memphis, Tenn.) increased the lead to 32-12 with 7:11 left in the first half.
Four free throws from senior Mick Hedgepeth (Crossville, Ala.) and another Clark three-pointer helped give the Bruins a 46-25 lead at halftime.
Belmont shot 52 percent (17-for-33) from the field in the first half - including 6-for-14 from three-point distance. The Bruins forced 11 Austin Peay turnovers, while committing only one themselves.
Jenkins and Hedgepeth led balanced Bruin scoring in the first half with eight points each.
The Bruins maintained their defensive intensity and offensive aggressiveness in the second half. After a Terry jump shot, senior Drew Hanlen (St. Louis, Mo.) sank consecutive three-pointers in a 47 second span to give Belmont a 55-31 lead with 17:16 left.
Jenkins capped a 19-6 Bruin run with a baseline slam to make the score 68-35 with 12:52 remaining.
Seven more points from Saunders and a three-pointer from junior Kerron Johnson (Huntsville, Ala.) stretched the margin to 78-41 midway through the second half.
Belmont head coach Rick Byrd utilized his deep bench throughout the game, with all 14 Bruins who suited up seeing extended action.
All told, Belmont shot 53 percent (35-for-66) from the field - including 10-for-25 from three-point distance. The Bruins forced 21 turnovers and outrebounded Austin Peay, 36-28.
Saunders led four Bruins in double figures with 18 points and five rebounds. Hanlen and Hedgepeth each scored 13 points. Jenkins added 12.
Josh Terry led Austin Peay (9-17, 6-6 Ohio Valley) with 13 points.
Belmont (18-7, 10-2 Atlantic Sun) returns to action Saturday, Feb. 11 at Florida Gulf Coast. Tip-off is set for 4:15 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.