The Belmont men’s basketball team fell for the first time this season 97-83 in its home opener against the Samford University Bulldogs.
After returning home as Paradise Jam champions — where they averaged 50 percent over three games from the field — the Bruins flipped a switch, shooting just over 34 percent.
The loss disappointed coach Casey Alexander, who took responsibility for the game’s outcome.
“This one is on me,” he said. “Samford was far better doing what they do than we were and that’s the number one responsibility of the head coach. We’re obviously disappointed, but we will learn from it and get better.”
At first tip the Bruins took possession of the ball, and with a strong offensive effort, junior Nick Muszynski drew a foul to put the first point on the board.
This was followed by a defensive effort that left Samford dry, and the Bruins followed with two more on the other end of the floor put up by junior Caleb Hollander.
After a few miscommunications and tough effort on both ends of the floor from the Bulldogs, the Bruins found themselves down by 13 early, the score being 19-6.
Junior guard Luke Smith soon put the Bruins within 10, putting up back-to-back threes to make the score 19-12. However, the Bulldogs answered quickly with back-to-back layups to extend their lead above 10 once again.
The Bruins were unable to find their stride for the rest of the half. Samford had an answer and more for each of Belmont’s baskets, putting the Bruins down 52-39 at the end of the first half.
Belmont shot 32.3 percent going 10-31 and 25 percent from the arc, with their leading scorer Smith bringing 11 points.
Coming out of the locker room, the Bruins appeared more upbeat, as they amped up their toughness on both ends of the floor.
The Bruins forced the Bulldogs to commit seven turnovers in the first five minutes, helping Belmont go on a 6-0 run to start the half putting them within just a 10 point deficit.
As the Bulldogs were feeling the heat, Samford starting guard Christian Guess was ejected from the game after committing his second technical foul. The Bruins were given four shots with three of them going down, making the score to 60-54.
The Bulldogs once again were able to find a positive balance, going five for six after losing momentum, but the Bruins had an answer for every basket keeping it within 10 through the midpoint of the half.
Belmont continued to push offensively, drawing fouls with every shot attempt to slowly even the playing field with free throws.
A Belmont win finally came to fruition after a three from Murphy put the Bruins within three, at 76-73. However, the Bulldogs answered with tough defense and back-to-back threes.
From there, the Bulldogs once again took control of the game, with Belmont unable to answer. Despite another game with four Bruins scoring in double figures, it was unable to maintain its perfect record, falling to 3-1.
Belmont will get a chance to redeem itself in their next game at home against Tennessee State University on Dec. 7. Tip off is slated for 6:30 p.m.
This article written by Julieann Challacombe.