Led by aggressive guard play, Belmont defeated the OVC eastern conference runner up, Morehead State, 80-66 in the Curb Event Center Thursday.
“It was a game we needed to win, we needed to win a home game against them,” said Byrd.
Belmont’s Craig Bradshaw and Reece Chamberlain both tied their career highs against Morehead State, with Bradshaw making his entire 24 points within the second half while Chamberlain reached the 17 point mark..
“Morehead State’s an aggressive team, they commit way more fouls than the average team,” Byrd said.
The Eagles committed 26 fouls in the contest, allowing the Bruins to score 24 points from the charity stripe.
Both teams entered the competition having won their past two games, Morehead State only one game away from tying Belmont and Murray State for overall first in the conference.
Morehead State is the OVC’s top rebounding team, with an average of 40.5 rebounds per game. Belmont ranks ninth in that category, averaging 30.6 rebounds per game, but the Bruins closed the game only one rebound behind Morehead State.
With 1:56 left in the first half, a technical foul on Coach Woods of Morehead state spurred a seven-point streak from JJ Mann, allowing the Bruins to enter halftime with a four-point lead.
Just four minutes into the second half, Morehead State had already racked up 5 fouls, most of which prolonged a Belmont possession under their home goal. Soon afterwards, Morehead State’s fouls pushed Belmont into the bonus.
Mann became the third Belmont Bruin to post double figures, scoring 19 points on the evening.
Unforced turnovers and fouls from both teams slowed the second half down considerably, but Belmont began to pull away with a growing lead, and kept the Eagles in a deficit of at least 10 points for the rest of the game.
Both Drew Kelly and Brent Arrington both committed their final fouls within 5 minutes of closing out the second half, and the Eagles were unable to recover.
Arrington scored 19 points in the first half for the Eagles, but was only held to two points in the game’s second stanza.
Belmont returns to action this Saturday seeking to avenge Eastern Kentucky for Betty Wiseman day at 7:00 p.m. before playing at Morehead State on Wednesday.