Belmont-WKU Halftime React
Belmont is favoring a bigger frontline than usual. For short stretches they played three players 6-foot-7 or taller. Evan Bradds is a maintstay, but he shared the floor with Nick Smith (6’8″) and Dylan Windler (6’7″).
Another patch of the first half featured a lineup of Jeff Laidig, Josh Lester, and Windler. The reason Belmont is able to run with this grouping is that Windler is spry enough to float away from the basket defensively. Also, Bradds is pretty light on his feet.
Still Belmont has to rely on technique and hustle to control the defensive boards, especially against bigger frontlines like Western Kentucky.
When officials call it tight the Bruins generally rebound better. For example, Austin Luke claimed low block position on a rebound, but Anton Waters bounded up on his back to nab an offensive rebound. Many officials would allow the transgression, but Wednesday night the whistles were quick and instructive.
Overall WKU got far too many offensive rebounds. The Hilltoppers crashed with a fury and poor Bradds was left along to fend off two and three bodies. For Belmont to play the guard-heavy lineups they prefer the wings have to rebound, or at the very least discourage their marks from offensively rebounding.
Belmont generally runs a tutorial offensively. Tonight they are balancing the floor well, but the passes are not caught crisply. Bradds dropped a couple passes. Luke hit a few intervening hands. Craig Bradshaw bobbled a single kick out. Generally the crispness of the offense requires flawless catches.
The second unit (with Luke and Bradds) served as the most successful bunch.
Forward Josh Lester directly changed the game. He tracked back to collect defensive rebounds. Lester even floated out to the corner, knocking down a triple in the process. His strength and toughness flipped the momentum.
Despite trailing most the half, Belmont leads 52-43 midway. Bradds leads the bruins with 14 points. Luke has 9, including 5 assists.