NASHVILLE (Feb. 26, 2006) - With a complete offensive attack both on the inside and outside, the Belmont Bruins wrapped up a share of the Atlantic Sun Conference championship with a 99-78 win over ETSU Sunday afternoon at Curb Event Center.
The loss continues a disappointing trend for the Buccaneers as they end the season falling in defeat four straight times and conclude the regular season 15-12 overall, 12-8 in A-Sun play. ETSU will be the conference's No. 5 seed in the league tournament beginning Thursday at Memorial Center, and will face Gardner-Webb at 7 p.m. Meanwhile, Belmont finishes a championship season 17-10, 15-5.
In the first half, Belmont came out shooting well and built leads of 15 points four times, including a 37-22 advantage with just 4:35 left before the intermission. However, from there the Bucs outscored the Bruins 18-9 and enjoyed an 11-3 run to end the half, trailing by just six at 46-40. Both teams shot over 55 percent from the field in the first half, with Courtney Pigram (Memphis) and Tim Smith (Newport News, Va.) leading the way with 11 points apiece.
Belmont stayed hot in the second half and early on the Bucs did not respond, as the Bruins built their largest lead of the game at 18 points, 74-56 with 10:29 left in the game. ETSU put together a run of its own at that point, going 9-0 to make it 74-65 with 8:27 remaining.
Yet again, though, Belmont responded as the Bucs struggled to make stops on defense and watched the Bruins push back out to a 19-point advantage at 86-67 with just under six minutes left in the game. The two teams traded some baskets the rest of the way, but the Bruins ultimately ended the game with their 21-point advantage.
The Bruins were led by a game-high 21 points from Josh Goodwin, along with double-figure scoring from Brian Collins (20), Boomer Herndon (16), Justin Hare (12) and Andrew Preston (10). Hare finished with a double-double thanks to 10 rebounds.
ETSU got a team-high 18 from both Smith and Pigram, along with 11 from both Travis Strong (Memphis) and Eryk Thomas (Fremont, Calif.).
Belmont shot 60 percent from the floor and out-rebounded the Bucs 40-20. Meanwhile, ETSU suffered its second 20-plus point loss in two games.