Propelled by a career night from sophomore Ben Sheppard, the Belmont men’s basketball team advanced to 21-1 on the season, winning 92-74 against the Eastern Kentucky Colonels.
Thursday night’s win marked the Bruins’ twenty fifth straight Ohio Valley Conference victory, tying for first for consecutive regular season wins in the OVC.
Sheppard exploded for 25 points and 10 rebounds, going 10-16 and putting up five threes. His double double gave Belmont two straight years of at least one sophomore putting up a double double on the season.
Along with Sheppard, three additional Bruins scored in double figures. Junior Nick Muszynski put up 15 points while taking down 7 rebounds. Close behind was fellow junior Caleb Hollander, who put up 14 points.
Off the bench, freshman JaCobi Wood once again did his part, putting up 11 points while going 3-5 from the field.
After the Bruins took hold of the first tip, Hollander put the first three points up with a highly contested and-1. Though the Colonels knocked down a three on the other end of the floor, Hollander answered with a three of his own to hold the first six points for the Bruins.
As expected, the energy on the floor was intense from the start but the Bruins kept it under control. Applying full court pressure to force four straight turnovers, and send them on a 9-0 run to make their lead 15-7.
After the Colonels went on a run of their own to lessen their deficit, Sheppard snapped their momentum with a couple of daggers from behind the arc. Muszynski then decided to chip in, putting up back to back baskets to tally five straight points – extending their lead to 26-19
As easily as the first time, the Bruins sent themselves on another 9-0 run with thanks to threes from junior Tate Pierson and Sheppard respectively, extending the Bruins’ lead to 32-19.
The Brins capped their dominant first half performance with conviction on both ends of the floor. On the offensive end the Bruins were automatic, especially from behind the arc as they finished with eight threes on the half.
Their defensive efforts, however, are what helped them go on the many runs that put them ahead by almost 20 at 50-32.They forced four straight turnovers to start the game and get a leg up early, and continued to force three more over the rest of the half.
Sheppard took control of the first half with a game high of 18 points going 7-9 from the field and 4-5 from three – he also grabbed four of the Bruins’ 21 rebounds on the half.
Hollander also contributed in volume, putting up 11 points and going 4-8. Collectively, the Bruins shot 58 percent from the field and 53 percent from behind the arc.
After the Colonels’ lackluster half, they immediately applied full court pressure on the Bruins in hopes it would somehow stop its offensive momentum.
They were unsuccessful, however, as the Bruins continued to capitalize off every possession and opportunity to regain it on the other end of the floor. By the midpoint of the half the Bruins in no way let go of their extensive lead, only adding to it, with the score being 73-54.
Though the Colonels did everything they could to catch up with the Bruins, they were no match for its energy. They did force the Bruins to make a few mistakes, but in the end, the Bruins by no surprise churned out a win 92-74.
On the night, Belmont shot 53 percent from the field and 43% from behind the arc, putting up a whopping 12 threes.
After a 24 hour break, the Bruins will face the Morehead State Eagleson Saturday in game two of their four-game homestand. Tip-off is slated for 4 p.m.
This article written by Julieann Challacombe.