In a disturbingly cold defensive effort by the Bruins in the first half and an on fire Adam Sollazo, Belmont gave 8 easy points to him in the lane, and responded by shooting a measly 8-22. The head hangs were all around the blue and white jerseys, after being pummeled inside time and time again. Out-rebounded 38-28, the Bruins walked to the locker room in silence and the Bruin faithful nervously shuffled in the seats.
But the second half was a different story. The Bruins came out on fire with an 18-4 run, silencing not only Sollazo’s inside game, but defending the perimeter with pressure and intensity. And in what might be the major story here, Trevor Noack and Reece Chamberlain both made key three point shots in critical times of the game, showing confidence in their playing time and tough defensive resolve.
With under 10 minutes left, some costly turnovers brought the game from a 12 point lead by the Bruins to within 6. It was a back-and-forth for here on out. In an impressive feat of speed and agility,Kerron stole an ETSU inbound, but his pass to Ian Clark ended up a missed three opportunity. In the customary ETSU-Belmont tournament fever, the game was a nail-biter until the end. ETSU brought it to 5 points with 30 seconds left, but the Bruins’ second half start was too much for an energized and very motivated Buccaneer team that was eventually worn down by a second-half motivated Rick Byrd team.
Ian Clark led the Bruins in points with 19, showing the abdominal injury was nothing worse than what Coach Byrd let on. Our big men scored 9 points with 10 rebounds combined, and Kerron also put up 12. All in all, it was the classic nail-biter. The Bruins did enough to get the win with some huge offensive spurts, but also showed they could come out flat at the beginning. Belmont will face either Mercer or Florida Gulf Coast tomorrow and will do well to remember what can happen if they think March Madness is a given.
The Championship game starts tomorrow at 7 p.m. ET.