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Three-pointers lead to three digits for MBB

The threes started falling for the men’s basketball team and wouldn’t stop as Belmont cruised to a 103-82 victory over Jacksonville State Thursday night.

The Bruins knocked down 17 of their 24 attempts from behind the arc to set the Curb Event Center record for 3-point percentage in a single game.

“At shootaround today, I told our guys I want us to set the Curb Event Center record for threes tonight,” said Belmont coach Rick Byrd. “And I only said that not being realistic but trying to get them loosened up and confident about shooting threes because we just haven’t been making them.”

Five Bruins reached double-digit figures with sophomore Evan Bradds leading the way with his fourth double-double of the season. The forward scored 19 points and added a career-high 18 rebounds, which tied the Curb Event Center record for a Belmont player.

“Evan has sort of embraced the physicality of the game a little bit more than he has in his first year and a half here. He understands he’s going to get banged around some,” Byrd said.

Freshman Amanze Egekeze finished with a career-high 16 points. Craig Bradshaw, Reece Chamberlain and Nick Smith rounded out the double-digit scorers for Belmont.

Much unlike the previous few contests, the Bruins wasted little time and effort finding the scoreboard. Egekeze drained a pair of threes to give Belmont an early 10-4 advantage.

A steal from Caleb Chowbay set up a three-point play for Egekeze, who put in the extra effort to get the layup and draw the foul. The Bruins took a commanding 28-10 lead midway through the first half.

Despite the large deficit, the Gamecocks slowly but surely chipped away at the lead and pulled within four behind the layup from Dontay Jackson.

But the Bruins would push its lead back to double-digits with the three from Egekeze at the halftime buzzer.

Within the first few minutes of the second half, Belmont continued to bury shots from downtown as Smith, Chamberlain and Taylor Barnette scored four consecutive threes.

“We’ve been kind of in an offensive slump recently. Tonight, our shots really just fell. But I think that’s really just a result of we just came out and played with an energy that has been missing for a while,” said Smith.

Bradshaw slammed his second dunk of the night moments later to give Belmont a commanding 24-point lead with 13 minutes still remaining.

For the remainder of the game, Byrd and the Bruins looked to their bench for support with play from its core of underclassmen. Four points from redshirt freshman Tyler Hadden pushed Belmont past the 100-mark for the first time this season as Belmont defeated Jacksonville State, 103-82.

“We played a lot of people and kept fresh guys in the game. I think because we played a lot, everybody was into it. I told them I was going to try to play everybody today. So hopefully this is a good one all around for us and gets some confidence going,” Byrd said.

With the victory, the Bruins improve to 6-2 in conference play. Belmont will host in-state rival Tennessee Tech on Saturday with tip-off set for 2 p.m. in the Curb Event Center.

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