Following a high-scoring win over Georgia State University on Monday, Belmont men’s basketball couldn’t find anything from 3-point range on Friday, losing to Furman University 99-76.
It was an opportunity for the Bruins and head coach Casey Alexander to get revenge against the Paladins after losing 89-74 last season.
With Furman also being a favorite to win the Southern Conference again, it would have built momentum early in the season.
The first half started off with back-and-forth action from both teams as they wrestled for momentum.
But Furman slowly caught fire, causing the Bruins to become disorganized on both sides of the ball.
This led to a Paladins 12-0 run.
Alexander said runs like this can’t happen if the Bruins want to be in the upper half of the Missouri Valley Conference.
“We had some breakdowns,” Alexander said. “We were empty. We were 0-10 from three. It’s hard to give yourself a chance against a good team if you can’t get stops and can’t make shots.”
For every attempted Belmont comeback, something would happen that shifted the game in the Paladins’ favor.
Towards the half, sophomores Kyler Vanderjagt and Malik Dia led a Belmont run to cut the lead to 10.
But Furman star JP Pegues sucked the air from the Bruins bench, hitting a 3-pointer to close the half with a 46-31 Paladins lead.
Coming out of the half, Belmont seemed to have found new life, scoring eight points in the first three minutes.
But the Paladins hit a trio of threes to turn the tables on the Bruins.
Even when the game seemed out of hand, Belmont cut the lead to single digits following a pair of crafty scores from a variety of players.
But after PJay Smith hit a three to give Furman the 76-63 lead, the Bruins seemed to have the life sucked out of them.
Furman scored 16 of the final 21 points as the Bruins couldn’t find that extra boost.
But despite the loss, Alexander said he was happy with his team’s performance in the second half.
“I’m very proud of our team and the mentality we had in the second half. I think that’s what you have to have to be a good team,” Alexander said. “We had many more moments where we looked like the team we want to be.”
Sophomore Ja’Kobi Gillespie led the Bruins with 21 points and five rebounds.
The second leading scorer for the Bruins was sophomore Kyler Vanderjagt, who finished with 12 points despite barely playing last year.
Alexander said he hopes this is a step in the right direction for the Bruins, which desperately need guard help off the bench.
“Kyler has probably earned more time than he’s been given. He stepped up today and helped his team,” Alexander said. “Hopefully, this will kickstart him a little bit.”
Cade Tyson and Malik Dia could only muster 17 points against the Paladins despite combining for 53 points against Georgia State.
The Bruins look to play a well-balanced game when they host Berry College on Tuesday.
This article was written by Ty Wellemeyer