Belmont Coasts in Battle of Boulevard
The Killer B’s of Belmont scorched Allen Arena on Lipscomb University campus Monday night, 87-62.
Lipscomb (1-1) hosted Belmont (1-1) in the 135th meeting of the Nashville private universities. Though the Lipscomb Bison entered with a 73-61 series advantage they were no match for the Bruins of Belmont.
Eight different Bruins hit three-point shots.
Belmont Bruins Craig Bradshaw, Evan Bradds, and Taylor Barnette shot like seasoned vets in a hostile environment. Barnette finished with 17 points and Bradshaw led all scorers with 22 points.
“Guys were setting good screens,” said Barnette. “We were moving the ball good and executing our offense. We got some good shots in transition.”
At one point Barnette hit four straight bombs. Lipscomb Head Coach Casey Alexander tried out three different defenders on the Virginia-transfer. Did not matter. Coupled with the innovative play structure and remarkable individual shooting touch Belmont barely missed.
“I have never been on a team with so many shooters and it is really cool,” said Barnette. “I like it a lot. It is cool.”
Late in the game Belmont was shooting over 60.0% from the field and an unheard of 51.0% from deep. Those are practice numbers.
“Coach (Rick) Byrd is an offensive-minded genius,” said Barnette. “He really makes adjustments to our personnel and we just have to execute it and trust the system. And it will all work out.”
Monday night it worked out. Barnette looked simply special coming off screens. Coaches around the league know about Bradshaw and voted him to Preseason All-OVC. They are going to be downright miserable when they watch this game tape and realize Belmont has another flamethrower.
“Taylor has all kinds of offensive ability,” said Bradshaw. “He is going to be really, really good. He is only a sophomore. He has three more years and he is going to be a ridiculous player by the time he is a senior.”
Even the Kitchen Sink
Lipscomb Coach Alexander opened up with a 3-2 zone. Belmont was having none of that and swiftly shot them out of the zone. In addition to allowing penetration and outside shots the zone was contributing to lazy defensive rebounding techniques.
Too many Bison were failing to find bodies to block out. Belmont hit the glass early. When a team shoots 50% from deep and you give them two shots…
Lipscomb ‘s Allen Arena was a feisty venue for college basketball. The band was jacked. College kids were screaming nonsensical things. It just felt like basketball was alive and well in Nashville.
Standing near midcourt a handful of male fans tried to get in the head of Bradshaw, presumably because he had toasted them in previous meetings. They tried to rattle him when a Lipscomb player buried a three pointer.
“That’s on you Craig! That’s on you Craig!”
The longer Belmont surged forward the less frequent the Lipscomb chants.
As hosts Lipscomb obviously had plenty of students on hand. Belmont faithful did not disappoint either. Probably sixty rowdy students spattered chants towards the Bison basin, or whatever Lipscomb’s proud student section is called.
“Why so quiet,” popped up from the Belmont students.
Minutes later BU fans cheered and chanted.
“You can’t stop him.” Clap-Clap. Clap-Clap-Clap.
It got a little bit uglier from there. When the game was well in hand Belmont students chanted, ‘This is our house!’
Belmont looked like a conference champion. When one guy has a career night it is possible to imagine him struggling once in awhile. When eight guys are hitting that is unavoidable.
“Honestly we just got into the paint and kicked out for open shots,” said Bradshaw. “It is really all about our guards getting into the paint and once we do that it opens up everything for us.”
Coach Byrd must have a lot of confidence in his veterans because he scheduled road games at Lipscomb and Wright State to open the season.
“Wright State was definitely a hostile environment,” said Bradshaw. “It kind of helped us out that it was Evan’s hometown, so we had quite a few fans there. Lipscomb is always a tough game. Regardless of what the scoreboard shows we hate coming in here.”
Belmont has a cupcake Wednesday, but will travel to Western Kentucky Saturday and host Lipscomb next Monday.