Playing with Fouls
When Western Kentucky University was charging late, Belmont forward Amanze Egekeze was able to score a rebuttle. His crafty turn-around layup drew a fifth foul on Ben Lawson, who quickly became the third Hilltopper to foul out. Earlier Justin Johnson and Nigel Snipes also left prematurely.
Belmont won 90-85 with brains over brawn.
Thinking Man’s Game
Two fouls by halftime generally puts your butt on the bench. And so it did for Egekeze, Craig Bradshaw, and four Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers Wednesday night.
Basketball’s equivalent of the penalty box affords the guilty of some thinking time. ‘What did I do wrong?’
Egekeze started the second half composed yet energized. Sitting and watching will do that to you. He wisely was able to contribute without straining. Egekeze did not try to get everything back right away.
Though the starting big for Belmont (Egekeze) collected his third foul with 11:05 to go in the game, he managed 8 points in the first three minutes of play. And he stayed on the floor until the end.
Egekeze’s final stat line: 14 points, 4 rebounds, 4 fouls.
Egekeze’s counterpart also picked up two first half fouls. Justin Johnson only saw four minutes of the floor in the first half.
Johnson was whistled for his fourth foul before the first TV timeout. He was sprinting back in the open floor, and reached to poke the ball free. Was it a foul? Maybe. Either way Johnson had to know his precarious position in the game. Because he picked up this foul, along with his rash first half, Johnson essentially did a fraction of what he was capable of. He finished with 9 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 turnovers.
Facing this Belmont team, Johnson could have easily dumped in 15 with 10 rebounds. His backup bigs were no more clean. Lawson blocked three shots, but accumulated five fouls. Almost all were around the basket defending. The inverted offense of Belmont generally does not place high pressure on the post defenders. Wednesday night this aberration truly mattered.
It allowed the Bruins to score in the pivot late when they suffered a few cold stretches. Easy buckets quickly resolve cold shooting.
Because Egekeze was smart and composed his easy buckets helped Belmont win again.