Taylor Barnette and Nick Smith contributed 80 percent of Belmont’s 3-pointers to ensure the 96-76 victory over Trevecca Nazarene University Wednesday night in the home opener.
“They are both phenomenal shooters and we’ve got to work hard to get them good shots,” said Belmont coach Rick Byrd.
The duo of Smith and Barnette recorded 12 of the 15 total 3-pointers for Belmont.
From the tip off, Belmont got off to a hot start with a dunk from Tyler Hadden to put the Bruins on the board.
After the exciting play, the team’s pace slowed down as the Bruins proceeded to shoot 0-5 from behind the arc. It wasn’t until almost five minutes in that Smith came off the bench to end the team’s 3-point drought to tie up the match at six points apiece.
“He [Byrd] trusts us, he trusts our shots, he wants us to keep shooting even if we miss and that’s what we did and it ended up being alright,” said Barnette.
Another basket from Smith took the lead back for the Bruins at 8-6 just five minutes into the contest.
Barnette drained a three with 11:38 on the clock to give the Bruins the lead at 16-14 and then sealed the deal with another 3-pointer to give Belmont 19-14 lead.
TNU immediately responds with a three of its own to make it a one possession game with 10 minutes to go in the half.
The Trojans battled to regain the lead again with 11 minutes left, but a 3-pointer from Smith stopped their attempt with the score at 24-22 in favor of the Bruins.
Reece Chamberlain stole the ball and handed it off to Barnette who made the layup with just over two and a half remaining to give Belmont a hefty 10-point lead, 37-27.
A sneaky bounce pass from Spencer Turner found Evan Bradds, who finished the layup to give Belmont a 43-32 lead going into the locker room at the half.
Belmont shot 43.4 percent in the first stanza.
Smith didn’t slow down from the first half as he sunk a three just 10 seconds into the second half.
Barnette proceeded to score four 3-pointers in-a-row. In the first half, he scored a total of eight points, but scored 12 points in the first four minutes of the second half.
“We recruit shooters. We like to play that way and it’s just always fun to see a guy get on a roll like that,” said Byrd.
After Barnette’s impressive 12-point run, the two teams traded points back-and-forth, but the Bruins still held the lead halfway through the second half with the score 74-53.
Great defensive teamwork from Bradshaw and Barnett resulted in a steal that drew the foul and two made foul shots from Bradshaw made the score 76-55 with nine minutes into the half.
With six minutes remaining, Smith hit his fourth three of the night to earn a career-high 14 points to make the score 88-60. Then, a minute later, the guard made another three to improve his personal record to 17 points on the night.
“He’s really coming off for us, he made shots, got a lot of rebounds, he’s got a lot of offensive talent and he’s only a sophomore so I’m really excited for him,” said Barnett.
Barnette also recorded a career-high of 27 points, shooting 10 of 12 on the night.
The Bruins are on the road Saturday against Western Kentucky at 7 p.m before hosting rival Lipscomb on Monday.
Photos by Andrew Hunt