If this was a preview of the Ohio Valley Conference, Belmont passed with flying colors against Austin Peay on Monday night.
Scott Saunders must love the Governors as well, as his combined points and rebounds during our home and away match-ups this year is at 46 points and 16 rebounds.
The Bruins never let up, and perhaps the biggest story in the game was the 21 forced turnovers against the Governors. Our defense was relentless, our perimeter defending held the Govs to 16.7% behind the arc, and 42% from the paint. Our conditioning looked top tier, the opponents huffing down the court with five minutes left in the first half behind our fast breaks and spot-on passing.
Drew Hanlen scored 13 with 5 assists, while Mick Hedgepeth scored the same and had 7 boards. Blake Jenkins’ game was explosive as well. His spot-on assist to Scott Saunders in the first half looked like a perfectly placed throw from Manning to Manningham, and his dunk (although he was abruptly benched following) in the second half showed the spark that has caught fire on this team, bringing them to new levels.
The reserves even got some time to show what they were capable of, with red-shirt freshman Reece Chamberlain showing promise under the basket with his speed and ball-handling skills. He played 14 solid minutes of basketball, went 3-4 with 2 assists.
And with the entire Belmont (starting) bench holding their hands up in the “O” signal, red-shirt freshman Chad Lang entered the game. The excitement of the crowd was really unbelievable at this point, especially with us being up by nearly 40 points. I mean, the guy is huge. Almost 7 feet tall and 275 lbs, Lang towered over their Peay’s tallest at 6’8”. His bulky frame, combined with us being up the 40 points, just begged the refs for lame calls. But Lang’s charm to the student body is not just by size alone, his abilities are clear. His patented shot- hook? lob? toss? Okay, i’ll just call it the “Lang”- The “Lang” is dependable. It has clearly been practiced with discipline and just begs for more chances. Lang has the size and basics, he definitely does NOT need me to tell him that- I look forward to his development this off-season.
All in all, Belmont has been revving things up the closer we get to the tournament. If you haven’t noticed, our offense has been ranked in the top 10 in the NCAA. We are now ranked 5th in points-per-game and 7th in assists-per-game.
If Belmont keeps this up, well, it is from here to anywhere…