NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The FGCU men’s basketball team handed Belmont its first conference loss of the season with a 66-63 victory at the Curb Event Center on Saturday night in Nashville, Tenn. Three Eagles recorded double-figures with junior guard Reed Baker (Naples, Fla.) leading the way with 14 points.
With the win, FGCU improves their record to 5-7 overall (2-1 A-Sun) while the Bruins fall to 7-6 overall (2-1 A-Sun). The win also marks the first FGCU win over Belmont.
“I give a lot of credit to our guys,” said FGCU head coach Dave Balza.”We’ve been preaching how important it is to play great defense. We didn’t play very defensively against Stetson, but tonight we came out and played extremely well on the defensive end.”
Baker shot 5-of-13, including 2-of-4 from behind the arc. Freshman Anthony Banks (Lantana, Fla.) registered 12 points on 5-of-13 shooting (2-of-2 from the charity stripe). Sophomore Reggie Chambers (Miramar, Fla.) also added double-figures with 12 points to go along with a game-high six assists. Kyle Marks (West Palm Beach, Fla.) dominated the boards, tying a career-high with 13 rebounds.
Jordan Campbell and Ian Clark each had a game-high 15 points for Belmont. Campbell shot 5-of-8 from the field and 3-of-6 from behind the arc. Clark was 5-of-12 from the field, including 4-of-8 from behind the 3-point line.
Four minutes into the first half, Baker hit a 3-pointer that sparked a 9-0 FGCU run that gave them a 15-9 lead with 10:34 remaining. Four different Eagles scored during that short spurt with Sherwood Brown (Orlando, Fla.) capping off the run with a tip-in after a missed FGCU jumper.
Belmont used a 10-3 run late in the first half to even the score at 26 with 35 seconds left. Clark collected five points for the Bruins during that stretch.
FGCU quickly answered and regained the lead with 12 seconds left in the first half. Banks hit a layup to give the Eagles the 28-26 lead going in to the break. Baker and Chambers each entered the half with seven points apiece. The Eagles dominated the paint in the first half, taking a 16-6 advantage in that category. Both teams committed 11 turnovers in the first half, and missed a combined 43 shots.
In the second half, the Eagles opened up with an 8-2 run to give them a 36-28 lead with 17:12 left in the game. Baker and Chambers each connected on 3-point attempts to extend the Eagles lead to eight points.
The Bruins answered with a 10-0 run of their own to take their second lead of the contest, 38-36 with 14:19 remaining.
The FGCU defense stepped up and came away with two Belmont turnovers on back-to-back Bruin possessions to regain the lead (42-41) at the 13:05 mark.
After a Mick Hedgepeth’s layup put the Bruins up by one (43-42) with 12:46 on the clock, the Eagles went on a 12-3 run to give them an eight point advantage with 6:29 remaining in the game.
Belmont inched within three, 57-54 at the 3:50 mark, on a 3-pointer by Clark, before Kyle Marks scored a key basket on an inbounds play to stretched the margin back to five with 3:18 remaining in the contest.
The teams traded scores but Clark hit his fourth 3-pointer of the night to get Belmont within two, 65-63, with 39 seconds to go.
Following a timeout and a stoppage to clarify the game and shot clock - underneath the FGCU basket - Baker attempted a risky inbounds pass by bouncing the ball off of Clark's back and stepping into the court to score. But the ball got deflected into the corner and went out of bounds with possession awarded to the Bruins.
With FGCU holding on to a two-point lead with three-seconds left, Hedgepeth went to line after an FGCU foul. Hedgepeth missed the first free throw attempt and intentionally missed the second attempt but Marks grabbed the rebound and made one throw to provide the final margin.
After shooting 32.4 percent from the field (11-of-34) and 37.5 percent (5-of-8) from behind the arc in the first half, FGCU shot 51.9 percent in the final 20 minutes of the game. For the contest, the Eagles shot 41.0 percent (25-of-61) from the floor, hitting 5-of-12 (41.7 percent) three-pointers, while holding Belmont to only 33.9 percent (19-of-56) from the floor and 32.3 percent (10-of-31) from outside the arc.
FGCU wraps up their three-game road trip as they face Lipscomb on Jan. 4 for an 8:30 p.m. tipoff. The Eagles are 1-2 against the Bison, last season the two teams were victorious on their home court.
FGCU 1-2 – Home: 1-1; Away: 0-1; Neutral: 0-0
02-02-09 vs Lipscomb (Alico Arena) W 76-73
01-03-09 at Lipscomb (Allen Center) L 82-76
01-31-08 vs Lipscomb (Alico Arena) L 70-56