The Bruins closed out the year with a 68-55 win against the Murray State Racers in the Curb Event Center on Wednesday night, to advance 9-1 on the season.
The team maintained its perfect home record against the Racers with their win, fueled by three Bruins who scored in double figures. Including sophomore Ben Sheppard, who put up a career-high 21 points on the night.
Sheppard was also tasked with the difficult job of guarding Murray State’s Tevin Brown, who he held to just six points.
“What Ben Shappard did on both ends of the floor tonight, tremendous effort for him” said coach Casey Alexander. “He’s obviously our best defender and the plan was for him to guard Tevin Brown whenever he was in the game and he did that really well”
The dynamic duo of juniors Grayson Murphy and Nick Muszynski followed. With Murphy putting up 15 points and seven rebounds, while Muszynski put up 12 points and six rebounds.
The Bruins began the matchup on a 7-0 run brought to you by a fast paced effort from the Bruins on both ends of the floor.
They forced two turnovers while holding the Racers to a scoring drought ahead of the first media timeout. They continued to shut down Murray State coming out of the timeout, but the Bruins went on a drought of their own.
Backed by many missed shot attempts, the Bruins went on a five minute scoring drought allowing the Racers to find momentum. With back to back threes, the racers cut a considerable deficit to a two possession game.
The Bruins, however, were better prepared after a chat with coach Casey Alexander, Coming out of the second media timeout, the Bruins went on a 6-0 run making the score 18-10.
The Bruins and Racers continued to battle in a very championship-like game fueled mostly by defense. The Racers tightened up in the final minutes of the half going on a 9-0 run to shorten their deficit, making the score a close 26-25.
Without any Bruins reaching double figures in the half, their leading scorer was sophomore Ben Sheppard with eight points and three rebounds at the buzzer.
Although Belmont had the upper hand headed into the locker room, their overall performance in the first half was pretty lackluster. They shot 30 percent overall and 15 percent from three, missing their last 13 three-point shot attempts to finish the half.
“It was a pretty miserable performance there for a while,” said Alexander. “We had nothing going for a while but Grayson Murphy’s steal and layup to stop the bleeding in the first half might have been the play of the game”
Junior Nick Muszynski got the Bruins started in the second half with three back to back baskets, with help from Sheppard behind the arc. The Racers were quick to respond, though, making each of their shot attempts as well.
A Belmont run silenced the Racers after baskets and forced turnovers, putting the Bruins up 40-34, and causing Murray State to use up a timeout.
They extend their scoring run with accuracy and ball movement that seemed to blind Murray State. In the blink of an eye, the Bruins were up by 11, 50-39. It was at this moment the small crowd of Belmont fans inside the Curb stood to their feet and cheered as loud as they could.
The Bruins continued to maintain control of the game, absolutely dismantling the Racers with tremendous force on both ends of the floor. They stayed ahead by double figures for most of the half – with their largest lead being 17 and the final score being 68-55.
The two halves couldn’t have been more opposite for the Bruins. They turned an overall 30 percent from the field to 60 percent in the second half, showing their true colors, which seem bright moving forward.
“I’m extremely proud of our team,” said Alexander. “It was a big win to get because obviously they’re a really good team.”
The Bruins’ next contest will be away against the UT Martin Skyhawks on Jan. 2. Tip off is slated for 4 p.m.
This article written by Julieann Challacombe.