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Senior Day to Remember

Senior Day to Remember

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - - Belmont University men's basketball delivered one of its finest performances of the season in defeating Tennessee State, 88-62, Saturday.

The Bruins, coming off a virtuoso offensive showing at Tennessee Tech one week ago, simply picked up where they left off.

Early three-pointers from junior Craig Bradshaw (Ridgetop, Tenn.) and freshman Amanze Egekeze (Lake in the Hills, Ill.) sparked Belmont to an 8-0 lead.

The Bruins held Tennessee State scoreless for the opening three minutes before a short jumper from Darreon Reddick.

A reverse layin from sophomore Evan Bradds (Jamestown, Ohio) and a three-pointer from sophomore Taylor Barnette (Lexington, Ky.) extended the margin to 10, 20-10, nine minutes in.

With the visiting Tigers playing their third game in six days, Belmont utilized its deep bench, with 12 Bruins seeing action in the first half.

After Demontez Loman made the score 25-19 at the 7:57 mark, freshman Mack Mercer (Plymouth, Ind.) sparked a 12-0 Belmont spurt with a sprint and score layin.

The Bruins continued to turn solid defense and rebounding into scoring opportunities in transition.

Consecutive three-pointers from Bradshaw and senior Holden Mobley (Nashville, Tenn.), a slam from freshman Tyler Hadden (Cincinnati, Ohio) and a slicing basket from Bradds brought the boisterous Homecoming crowd to its feet as the lead grew to 37-19 with 4:04 left in the half.

Five quick points from Egekeze and a dramatic four-point play from Bradshaw culminated the energized half as Belmont took a 50-28 halftime lead.

Belmont shot 61 percent (20-for-33) from the field in the opening 20 minutes - including 8-for-14 from three-point distance. 

Remarkably, Belmont handed out 19 assists on 20 made field goals in the first half, with 10 different Bruins scoring.

Bradshaw had 15 first half points.

Barnette made three shots from behind the arc in the first 3:16 of the second half as Belmont pushed the lead to 59-35 with 16:44 remaining.

Junior Jeff Laidig (Mishawaka, Ind.) gave Belmont some valuable minutes defensively, while Mercer and sophomore Caleb Chowbay (Mt. Juliet) continued their positive bench production.

The Bruins would hold Tennessee State without a field goal for a six minute stretch midway through the second half. 

Bradshaw delivered several more memorable plays, including a takeoff play slam off a perfect pass from senior Spencer Turner (Bloomington, Ind.).

13 different Bruins scored.

All told, Belmont shot 54 percent from the field - including 15-for-32 from three-point distance. The Bruins handed out a season-high 28 assists, just two shy of the Curb Event Center record.

Bradshaw, who was named Capital One Academic All-America Thursday, led Belmont with 23 points. Barnette added 12 and Egekeze 10.

Darreon Reddick led Tennessee State (5-26, 2-14 OVC) with 13 points.

Belmont has won 30 consecutive conference home games dating back to 2012, and is 24-0 in Ohio Valley Conference home games.

Belmont and Eastern Kentucky both finished OVC play with 11-5 conference records to share the OVC East Division.

Eastern Kentucky receives the No. 2 seed in the upcoming OVC Tournament by virtue of tiebreaker (Colonels swept Morehead State, Belmont split).

Belmont (19-10, 11-5 OVC) receives the No. 3 seed and will play the winner of Eastern Illinois and SIU Edwardsville Thursday night at 8 p.m. CT in the quarterfinal round of the 2015 OVC Basketball Tournament.

The game will be broadcast on the OVC Digital Network. The live play-by-play of Voice of the Bruins Kevin Ingram can be heard on the Bruin Sports Network and 104.5 The Zone. In-game updates will be available on Twitter @BelmontMBB.

NOTES: Chamberlain, Mobley and Turner went out in style ... Chamberlain handed out nine assists, Mobley had three points, two rebounds and one assist, and Turner had three points and one assist ... Belmont outscored Tennessee State, 30-18, in bench points.