COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Belmont Bruins scorched the nets Saturday night in Eblen Center, and needed every bit of their 65 percent accuracy to hold off a stubborn Tennessee Tech squad, 88-82 in Ohio Valley Conference action.
Tech outscored Belmont (18-10/10-5 OVC) in the second half, but the visitors shot 69 percent after the intermission to hang on for the victory. Tech (12-15/4-10 OVC) shot 56 percent in the first half, cooled off to44 percent in the second, and just couldn't find a clutch bucket in the final three minutes.
Tied at 77-77 with 3:49 remaining, Belmont held Tech to just three free throws over the next two-and-a-half minutes while slipping ahead by five. A layup by Dwan Caldwell made it an 85-82 game with 1:15 to play, and the Bruins were able to play keep-away while making good on three-of-four free throws down the stretch.
Torrance Rowe (in photo) led all scorers with a career-high 24 points. Caldwell, one of three seniors playing his final home game, added 18 points and five rebounds, while fellow senior Javon McKay had 11 points and six boards in his final home contest. The third senior, Jordan Johnson, finished with nine points and four assists. Junior Charles Jackson was Tech's fourth player in double figures with 10 points, while seeing just 22 minutes due to foul troubles.
Belmont had five players in double digits in the scoring column, led by Craig Bradshaw's 17. Evan Bradds added 16 and nine rebounds, while Taylor Barnette, Reece Chamberlain and Nick Smith finished with 14 each.
Belmont led all but the first 2:45 of the first half, erasing an early Tech edge with an 11-3 run for a nine-point advantage. The Golden Eagles, however, never let the game get away from them in the first half, staying within striking distance throughout before heading to the break down 43-36. Tech shot 56 percent (15-for-27) in the first half.
The Golden Eagles shot 65 percent over the first few minutes of the second half, hoping to cut the margin, but Belmont drained its first five shots to keep the Golden Eagles at bay. The lead grew to as many as 12 points, 68-56, as Belmont continued to find the range.
That's when Tech put together an amazing four-minute stretch and an 12-0 run to wipe out the Belmont lead and claim a 73-72 lead with 5:53 remaining. Tech went up by four points, 76-72, as Caldwell drained two free throws with 4:58 left.
Less than a minute later, following a Smith 3-pointer and a tip-in by Chamberlain, the Bruins were back on top, 77-76. A free throw by McKay tied it at 77-77, setting the stage for the Bruins stretch run to the victory lane.
Belmont's 69 percent (18-for-26) in the second half gave the Bruins a 65.3 percent mark for the game (32-for-49). The Bruins were 10-for-21 from long range and held a 30-29 rebound edge.
The final two games of the season send the Golden Eagles into Kentucky's Death Valley next week, where they will face Morehead State Thursday night in a late, nationally televised game followed Saturday with the season finale at Eastern Kentucky.