Drew Hanlen thinks he missed his two best looks during his last regular season Battle of the Boulevard game.
If he hadn’t made his first seven three-point shots though, his teammates wouldn’t have gotten on to him for the misses.
“I didn’t wanna miss,” he said. “Obviously there was extra incentive just because it is Lipscomb and this is the last battle I get to play in this atmosphere. It was really special tonight.”
Hanlen’s seven threes and 21 total points put the Bruins ahead early in the rivalry game and set them up for their 84-58 win against the Bison Friday night.
The game was the final regular season game between both teams in Atlantic Sun play, and was played in front of the second largest crowd in Allen Arena history. After Belmont’s dramatic loss to the Bison three weeks ago, head coach Rick Byrd was pleased with his team’s improvement mentally and physically from that game.
“From our side, there was a big difference. I hope our guys can see it and learn from it,” he said. “We were much better from beginning to end.”
After trailing early, a 24-5 Bruin run gave them a 16-point lead midway in the first half. Hanlen was perfect from three-point range in the half, scoring five three-pointers in the first 15 minutes.
“He got open looks,” said Lipscomb head coach Scott Sanderson. “We went under his ball screens. Early on, he jumped up and made several of them. We tried to make an adjustment and go over the top of him, and he jumped up and made some shots. He played awful well tonight.”
The Bruins made nine three-pointers combined in the half, and made nearly two-thirds of all of their shots in the same period. Ian Clark also contributed 10 points to the Bruins 51-29 halftime lead. He scored 15 on the night, as Scott Saunders and Blake Jenkins had 11 and 10 points respectively.
The Bruins’ first half performance was nearly enough to win the game outright; the Bison only scored eight more points in the entire game than Belmont did in the first half alone.
“I’m really happy with the way our team came out and approached the game and performed,” Byrd said. “We did what we had to do in the first half.”
The Bison opened the half on 14-7 run. At that point, down by as few as 14 points, head coach Scott Sanderson believed his team could come back to win just like they had the last two times they played Belmont.
“We felt like they had a shot,” he said. “I thought our guys came out in the second half and played the way he wanted to play, but obviously you can’t dig yourself out of a hole against a team as good as they are.”
Hanlen’s first three of the second half ended the Bison run while starting an 11-0 Bruin stretch that effectively put the game away.
The Bruins improved their record to 17-7 with the win and clinched a spot in the Atlantic Sun tournament. They will resume play at home against future conference opponent Austin Peay Monday night.
Check out our Storify coverage of Friday night’s game as well.
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