The Belmont men’s basketball team ended the season and conference play with a 65-59 loss to Jacksonville State University in the semifinals of the Ohio Valley Conference Friday night.
“I’m really disappointed for our players,” Coach Rick Byrd said. “We had a great year, unfortunately all this gets measured by who makes the NCAA tournament, it seems.”
The Bruins will be playing in the National Invitation Tournament, and will start practice on Wednesday, Byrd said.
“We’ve still got more to do.”
Late in the second half, Belmont needed three points to tie the game. Taylor Barnette took a three-point shot that rimmed out.
“That will definitely haunt me for a while,” Barnette said. “But that shot I made two years ago didn’t define me and the shot I just missed won’t define me either. I’m just grateful we have more basketball to play.”
Evan Bradds said that he’s looking forward to getting to finish his college basketball career at the NIT.
“I want to keep playing with Taylor [Barnette], I want to keep playing for Coach Byrd as long as I possibly can,” Bradds said. “That’s the thing, you win or go home at this point.”
Byrd said he felt the NIT tournament could offer a better experience for the Bruins.
“It’s a great historic tournament, we win three games and end up at Madison Square Garden,” Byrd said. “Who’s to say that that doesn’t end up being a better experience, than getting knocked out in the first round of the NCAA tournament. We’ve got a chance to have a great experience.”
Barnette added the team is ready to get back to work.
“I have no doubt this team will come out on Wednesday, even off of a really stinging loss, and will be able to practice hard,” Barnette said. “We have something to look forward to.”