NASHVILLE (Feb. 18, 2012) – Consistently victimizing ETSU’s zone defense and connecting on 11 3-pointers on the night, the Belmont Bruins handed the Buccaneers an 80-58 defeat in Atlantic Sun Conference men’s basketball action Saturday evening at the Curb Event Center.
It marked ETSU’s sixth loss in its last nine A-Sun games, and dropped the Bucs to 13-13 overall, 7-8 in conference action. Meanwhile, Belmont improved to 21-7 overall, 13-2 in A-Sun play, and now owns sole possession of first place in the league standings.
“We thought we had a good plan and for the first 10 minutes of the game it was working for us,” said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow. “But they made a run and we didn’t play well during that stretch. Heck, they are one of the best offensive teams in the country and they scored 80 again tonight. They are a good team and we’re just not playing well right now.”
Losing for the sixth time in the last seven trips to the Curb, the Buccaneers suffered an offensive drought midway through the first half and looked on as the Bruins put together a decisive 22-6 run that helped result in a 16-point halftime lead.
For the first 10 minutes, ETSU held its own with the first-place Bruins and the Buccaneers found themselves tied at 15-15. However, at that point Belmont manufactured its run powered by five 3-pointers – including three from senior guard Drew Hanlen – and ultimately led 37-21 at the break.
Belmont shot 50 percent from the field in the first half and hit on 46.7 percent of its 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes. Meanwhile, ETSU was 0-of-5 from beyond the arc and shot just 32.3 percent from the field.
The story did not get better after the break, as Belmont built a lead of as many as 26 points at 51-25 and cruised to the victory. It was the first 20-plus point loss for the Bucs since a 71-50 defeat to Ole Miss back on Dec. 18, 2010.
For the game, Belmont got a game high 18 points from guard Ian Clark, while both Hanlen and Kerron Johnson pitched in 15. Meanwhile, Scott Saunders and Blake Jenkins added 12 each.
For ETSU, junior guard Sheldon Cooley (Tampa) scored a team-high 13 points, while senior forward Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.) netted 12. The Bucs shot just 37 percent from the floor and 20 percent from beyond the arc.
The Buccaneers will return to action Monday evening at Lipscomb, with game time set for 7:30 p.m. (EST). For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the 2011-12 season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s hoops link.