After an easy first meeting for Belmont, the second Battle of the Boulevard game in the Curb Event Center was much tighter at 82-77, but still in Belmont’s favor to complete the Lipscomb sweep.
“Last game, they didn’t fight back. This game we made a huge run and they fought back,” said junior guard Craig Bradshaw.
Bradshaw earned a career-high 29 points on the game and shot 5-for-7 from behind the arc. Senior Reece Chamberlain recorded a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Great defense from Belmont held the Bisons to just one basket for the first five minutes of the game as the Bruins built a 17-3 lead.
However, Lipscomb went on an 11-0 run until a free throw from Bradshaw ended the streak with 12:45 remaining. Bradshaw sealed the deal with a jumper 15 seconds later to make the score 20-14.
After Lipscomb continued to battle back, a three from Brett Wishon made the score a tight 1-point margin in favor of the Bruins, 20-19, with just over 10 minutes to go in the first half.
Evan Bradds ended Belmont’s four and half minute scoring drought just in time with a layup to make the score 23-19 with eight minutes remaining in the half.
With 4:30 on the clock, a layup from Malcolm Smith tied up the match for the first time, but 30 seconds later a 3-pointer from Bradshaw gave Belmont back the lead.
The Bruins closed out the half with a 14-0 run to go into the locker room with a 41-27 lead.
Chamberlain recorded nine of his 11 total rebounds in the first half.
“The effort that he gave, I just felt like he was the only one on our team that was just trying to take it to them. He’s just so valuable to our team, it’s hard to put into words,” said Belmont coach Rick Byrd.
Four minutes into the second half, Bradds was assessed a technical foul, and Martin Smith hit a free throw to make the score 47-37.
A pair of threes from Lipscomb put the game at reach seven minutes into the half with the score at 51-45.
A three from Martin Smith forced Byrd to call a timeout with the 1-possession game and 12:53 on the clock.
Out of the huddle, Bradshaw scored 15 straight points, including four 3-pointers to give Belmont an 8-point lead with eight minutes remaining.
“Craig sort of saved us making those three threes. I felt like Lipscomb was getting anything they wanted and we were struggling to get great shots,” said Byrd.
Lipscomb replied with a 9-point run to make it a 4-point game with two minutes left.
After his team missed six straight at the line, senior Holden Mobley knocked down two crucial free throws with 18 seconds left.
“We missed six free throws. Don’t think that isn’t contagious. Here’s a guy who’s been here five years and has never had that kind of pressure, and he didn’t hit the rim with any one of them, said Byrd. “That was such a big moment for us.”
Lipscomb again answered with a basket to make the score 79-77, but Bradshaw ensured Belmont the 82-77 win with three free throws and a steal in the final seconds.
Belmont hosts Denver in the Curb Event Center on Wednesday at 1 p.m.
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