Men’s basketball suffers first loss against rival Lipscomb since 2017
Lipscomb fans stormed the court after beating Belmont for the first time in five years.
In the 149th Battle of the Boulevard, Bison forward Jacob Ognacevic’s layup with one second remaining pushed the Bisons to a 77-75 win.
The loss on Monday follows Belmont’s 15-point defeat to Furman University.
The Bruins scored seven of the game’s first 10 points but couldn’t build a heavy lead as the Bison continued to chip away.
But as the Bison found their stride, the Bruins struggled offensively.
Turnovers, missed free throws and foul trouble allowed the Bison to crawl back into the game. The Bruins had offensive hiccups as freshmen Ja’Kobi Gillespie and Cade Tyson went to the bench with foul trouble.
“I was really disappointed with the way we started the game; I don’t think we were rattled but we weren’t sharp,” Alexander said. “We didn’t have great execution early, once they settled down, we were fine, but we had a tough start.”
Sheppard tried to shoulder the load by playing point guard while the team had foul trouble.
"We have not been a team that’s been in foul trouble at all this season, so we really had to juggle stuff,” Alexander said.
In the first half, Sheppard finished with 11 points, seven rebounds, and three assists.
On the defensive end, the Bruins were unable to contain Matthew Schner who shot a perfect 6-6 from the field with 13 points.
The Bruins entered the locker room trailing 37-34.
When play resumed, Schner scored the first points for the Bison but for the next few minutes, it was all Belmont.
The Bruins went on a 16-4 run in the first four minutes of the second with seven points from Tyson.
“Cade has been pretty consistent from start to finish; with him, foul trouble hurt us early tonight,” Alexander said of the freshman who finished with 15 points in 25 minutes.
Juniors Even Brauns and Michael Shanks electrified the crowd with two dunks as the Bruins continued to extend their lead.
Eight minutes into the half, Tyson continued to lead the charge for the Bruins, igniting the traveling Belmont fans with an “and one” dunk as the Bruin lead grew to 57-51 with 12 minutes to go.
But Trae Benham, Derrin Boyd and Ognacevic led Lipscomb on a 7-0 run, pulling the Bisons back into the game.
But down the stretch, Lipscomb’s lead grew to seven as the Bruins went on a near two-minute scoring drought.
Gillespie brought life back to Belmont’s offense as he drove to the basket for several acrobatic layups and knocked down key free throws.
“Consistency is what we need from him, he showed what kind of playmaker he is and what type of competitor he is down the stretch when we needed him, but he played really poor early,” Alexander said of the freshman who finished with 12 points and three assists.
The Bruins found themselves with a chance to tie late in the game as Shanks stepped to the free throw line with Belmont still down, 75-73.
After sinking both, Belmont was unable to get a stop on Lipscomb’s final offensive possession.
Alexander said the early turnovers and foul trouble were key factors that swung the game Lipscomb’s way.
The Bruins continued to struggle from the free throw line, shooting 12-19 in the game and 43% as a team for the season.
Sheppard also experienced shooting struggles, connecting on just one of his seven three pointers.
“It’s very frustrating, but it won't last all season,” Alexander said. “We just have to put two and two together to build confidence.”
Sheppard has also had a slow start this season, missing six of his seven three-point attempts on Monday.
The Bruins remain without senior point guard Keishawn Davidson, who is out indefinitely with a shoulder injury.
Playing over 100 games in his career at Tennessee Tech University before transferring, Alexander hoped to have Davidson playing 30 plus minutes a night.
“Obviously, we’ve got to play with the guys we’ve got, so no excuses at all, but losing Keishawn the week of the first game, that’s been a lot for us to overcome, and obviously we’re still working on it.”
Despite the loss, Alexander acknowledges the type of atmosphere the Battle of the Boulevard creates and how much it means.
“It’s great, I wish we could play in January or February when people are paying attention,” Alexander said. “It’s two great schools and programs with a lot of great people in both places, so it’s good for us and good for Nashville.” This article was written by Landen Secrest.