ATHENS, Ohio - - Belmont University men's basketball junior Craig Bradshaw (Ridgetop, Tenn.) scored a Belmont NCAA Division I era record 42 points, including the game-winning basket with 0.2 seconds remaining, as the Bruins defeated Ohio, 83-81, Saturday night.
It was a rematch of a memorable 2013 ESPN Bracketbuster game, which saw Belmont claim an 81-62 victory before a jam-packed Curb Event Center crowd.
And as was the case in victories earlier this week against Lipscomb and Denver, Belmont came out focused and engaged.
All five Bruin starters scored by the first media timeout, and when freshman Amanze Egekeze (Lake in the Hills, Ill.) scored inside, the Bruins seized a 15-5 lead five minutes in.
But eight early points from Stevie Taylor - the lone Bobcat to appear in the previous meeting - got the hosts back within four points.
From there, Bradshaw ripped off 11 straight points to push Belmont out to a 30-19 lead at the 9:27 mark.
But Javares Wills capped a quick 7-0 Ohio run to close the Bobcats within four.
Willis continued the hot hand, and as Belmont cooled, a three-pointer from Antonio Campbell gave Ohio a 36-35 lead.
But sophomore Nick Smith (Bentonville, Ark.) tied a bow on a timely 7-0 Belmont run to close the half, as his straight-on three-pointer sent the Bruins to the locker room up three, 44-41.
Belmont shot 52 percent (16-for-31) from the field in the opening 20 minutes - including 8-for-17 from three-point distance.
The free-flowing game had only five combined first-half turnovers.
Bradshaw had 19 first-half points.
Bradshaw opened the second half with a driving layin before Ryan Taylor answered with four straight points.
Willis would tie the score at 50 with 16:26 remaining, before Smith replied with a three-pointer for the Bruins.
Belmont did a remarkable job on Ohio big man Maurice Ndour, who scored his first basket with 13:36 remaining to give the Bobcats a 54-53 lead.
The seesaw affair would continue, as four ties and five lead changes characterized the next six minutes of play.
Another Smith triple tied the score at 65 with 6:20 to go.
After Ryan Taylor made one free throw to give the Bobcats the lead, Bradshaw buried a 30-footer to put Belmont ahead 68-66 with 5:37 left.
Willis would reply with a wing three-pointer, before Bradshaw continued his remarkable streak from distance to enable the Bruins to reclaim the lead.
With each possession at a premium, both teams made great plays down the stretch.
Following a Ryan Taylor tip slam and one Bobcat free throw, sophomore Evan Bradds (Jamestown, Ohio) scored along the baseline to give Belmont a 73-72 edge with 3:03 remaining.
Ndour put home his own miss, before two Bradshaw free throws put the Bruins back ahead by one with 2:32 to go.
A conventional three-point play from Ndour put Ohio back on top, 77-75, with 2:22 left, yet Bradshaw answered from the charity stripe to equalize nine seconds later.
After Stevie Taylor missed a short jumper, senior Holden Mobley (Nashville, Tenn.) grabbed a huge rebound for the Bruins with 1:59 left.
Following a rare Bradshaw miss, Ndour slammed home his own miss to give Ohio a 79-77 lead with 53 seconds remaining.
But as was the case one week ago, Belmont turned to Smith who delivered in the clutch. The sophomore forward buried a contested corner three-pointer with 32 seconds left to push Belmont back ahead 80-79.
After an Ohio timeout, the Bruins nearly forced a five second violation on the inbounds play. But once the Bobcats got the ball in play, Willis broke pressure and attacked the basket.
His contested layin attempt rimmed off and Mobley secured the rebound.
Belmont proceeded to break Ohio pressure, with Mobley ultimately fouled off the ball with 16 seconds remaining. The play was significant as Ndour fouled out on the play.
Mobley would make one of two free throws to increase the Belmont lead to 81-79.
On Ohio's next possession, Willis drove the lane and scored a twisting layin with seven seconds left.
The Bobcats would call timeout to set up their defense, also allowing Belmont to draw up one final play.
Belmont turned to Bradshaw, who received a return pass from Smith, sped into the frontcourt, and sank a floating bank shot with 0.2 seconds remaining.
Ohio would actually inbound the basketball and the horn sounded, however officials went to the monitor to review how much time should be put on the game clock following Bradshaw's shot.
0.2 seconds was decided upon, meaning Ohio could only tip a final shot, not catch and shoot.
Belmont defended the final desperation pass and the game ended.
All told, Belmont shot 51 percent (29-for-57) from the field - including 14-for-30 from three-point distance.
Bradshaw went 14-for-22 from the field, 8-for-12 from three-point distance and 6-for-6 from the free throw line.
The 42 point outing establishes a new Belmont NCAA era single-game record, surpassing Josh Goodwin's 39-point performance at East Tennessee State Dec. 1, 2005.
Smith scored 15 points while Bradds added 10 points and seven rebounds.
Willis led Ohio (2-2) with 25 points.
Belmont (6-1) returns to game action Tuesday, Dec. 2 versus Middle Tennessee. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. CT.
The game will be broadcast live on the American Sports Network. The live play-by-play can be heard on the Bruin Sports Network and 104.5 The Zone. In-game updates will be available on Twitter @BelmontMBB.