• Lillie Burke

Men’s basketball crushes Evansville in long-awaited return to the Curb

Marching in from the first pep rally since the start of COVID-19, the student section at the Curb Event Center cheered at full capacity for men’s basketball’s first home game of the season.

And a splashing 81-43 win against the University of Evansville Aces left the Bruins — spectators and team — satisfied Saturday night.

“Our guys played with tremendous effort, passion, energy, and they are all things that are conducive to playing well and having a good night,” head coach Casey Alexander said after the game.

Graduate guard Luke Smith scored the first 2 points of the game, and the Bruins never looked back. The squad would expand its lead to 10, 20 and then 30 points by the end of the second half.

Though Belmont lost its first game of the season on the road against Ohio University on Tuesday, the team continued its win streak at home, which now stretches to 12 consecutive games since December 2020.

Belmont and Evansville have a relatively short history with each other but will soon be conference rivals when the Bruins join the Aces in the Missouri Valley Conference next season.

Saturday’s game gave the Bruins a glimpse at the competition that awaits them in the MVC. The Aces’ top scorer of the evening was guard Shamar Givance with a game-high 17 points.

Graduate guard Grayson Murphy was a standout for the Bruins, recording 16 points, five assists, five steals and six rebounds in his 26 minutes on the floor.

Grayson Murphy at Belmont's 2021-22 home opener

No. 2 Grayson Murphy had a successful night on the floor, here in defense mode. Belmont Vision / Jessica Mattsson.

In his debut home game, freshman guard Will Richard showed confidence and potential seen in practice, coach Alexander said, racking up 11 points — including some swooshing 3-point jump shots — and snagging 6 rebounds from the Aces.

With a 38-point margin of victory, the Bruins kept fans on their feet throughout the game, and the First on the Floor pep rally beforehand added an extra punch of school spirit to the home-court kickoff.

“It is great to see the spirit alive and you know everyone is super stoked for the season … and yeah, dude, this is awesome,” Belmont student Harrison Shook said at the rally.

With its first win of the season now in the books, Belmont’s team showed its depth with four players racking up points in the double-digits and all 12 players putting points on the board.

Alexander, entering his third season as Belmont’s head coach, credited the players for their mentality on the court, he said, and the Bruins exhibited their golden game for recent signees Keith Robbins, Cade Tyson and Ja’Kobi Gillespie and the rest of the Bruin community.

“The students were awesome, it was great having those guys out there and being as impactful as they were,” Alexander said. “We’ll keep playing hard and hopefully they’ll keep showing up.”

Alexander said the next game could be a close one for the Bruins: the team will host Furman University on Monday at 6:30 p.m. in the Curb Event Center.

___

PHOTO: No. 3 Luke Smith supported by the sea of students at Saturday’s game against Evansville. Belmont Vision / Jessica Mattsson.

This article was written by Jessica Mattsson. Contributory reporting by A.J. Wuest.

#firstonthefloor #LukeSmith #WillRichard #BelmontAthletics202122 #evansville #CaseyAlexander #GraysonMurphy #MBB202122 #CurbEventCenter

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