JACKSONVILLE, Ala. - - Belmont University men's basketball dropped a 91-80 decision in overtime at Jacksonville State Thursday night.
The Bruins played with remarkable poise, precision and purpose in a virtuoso first half, marked by exceptional shooting, team rebounding and no turnovers in the opening 17-plus minutes of the game.
Senior Kevin McClain (Jennings, Fla.) scored 16 first-half points, and when junior Seth Adelsperger (Peru, Ind.) scored a tip-in before the buzzer, Belmont closed the half on a 13-0 run to lead 47-33 at halftime.
But things turned early in the second half, as Ty Hudson and Jason Burnell made a series of contested shots to work Jacksonville State back into the game.
A conventional 3-point play from freshman Nick Muszynski gave Belmont a 61-48 lead with 13 minutes remaining, before a Jamal Gregory end-of-shot-clock banked 3-pointer fueled a Jacksonville State run.
In fact, Gregory scored nine points in a one-minute stretch to trim Belmont's lead to 61-57.
From there, Belmont used free throws to maintain a working margin before Burnell tied the game at 67 with 5:30 left.
After sophomore Nick Hopkins (Fayetteville, Tenn.) put Belmont back on top, Jacksonville State took its first lead of the game with 3:05 left on a Burnell 3-pointer.
Two baskets from Gregory increased the margin to five points, but Belmont responded.
Two free throws from senior Dylan Windler (Indianapolis, Ind.), a defensive stop, and a Hopkins 3-pointer tied the score at 75 with 48 seconds left.
After a Hudson miss and a Windler rebound, Belmont worked the final possession of regulation.
Hopkins' 17-footer rimmed off and the game went to overtime.
Windler gave Belmont an early lead in overtime with one free throw, but Burnell continued his all-court game and a Marlon Hunter putback gave Jacksonville State an 80-76 lead with 3:04 left in overtime.
A Hudson 3-pointer and a Hunter baseline jumper pushed the margin to nine, 85-76, with 1:48 left in the extra period.
After inspiring play throughout, Belmont simply could not find the range in the second half, shooting 26 percent from the field in the second half and overtime.
Muszynski led four Belmont players in double figures with a career-high 23 points. McClain had 20 points, five rebounds and eight assists. Windler added 17 points and a season-high 17 rebounds.
Hopkins had 11 points and three steals.
Burnell led Jacksonville State (13-5, 5-0 OVC) with 30 points.
Belmont (12-4, 3-2 OVC) returns to game action Saturday, Jan. 19 vs. Tennessee State. Tip-off is set for 5 p.m. CT from the Curb Event Center. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+ and the ESPN app. The live play-by-play of Voice of the Bruins Kevin Ingram can be heard on the Bruin Sports Network. In-game updates will be available via Twitter @BelmontMBB.