By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech men's basketball team was dealt its first loss in Ohio Valley Conference play Thursday evening, falling on the road in the Curb Event Center to the Bruins of Belmont, 80-67.
Trailing by as much 11 in the first half, the Golden Eagles (10-6, 2-1) showed grit early on in the contest battling back to take a 27-26 lead with just over four minutes to play in the first stanza. Belmont (11-5, 3-0) answered nearly immediately with a layup from the game's top scorer, Dylan Windler, and never gave up the lead again.
The Golden Eagles hung with the hot-shooting Bruins for much of the second half, trailing by as little as four points with just under 10 minutes to play. Belmont used a combination of free throws and 3-pointers to draw the lead out to as many as 14 points, never letting the Golden Eagles back within single digits.
The Bruins knocked down all 11 of their free throw attempts on the night, all of which were awarded in the second half. Tech finished 5-for-6 at the line, struggling to draw calls inside the paint, particularly in the second half.
The Golden Eagles also saw a 20-12 advantage in rebounds in the first half quickly flip in favor of the Bruins over the final 20 minutes, as Belmont earned an 18-6 advantage in the second half.
Tech turned in a strong effort shooting from beyond the arc, sinking 10-of-20 attempts, but was held to just 26 points inside the paint and 44.1 percent shooting overall. Belmont hit 11-of-25 3-point attempts, but also finished a sizzling 56.9 percent from the floor.
Graduate guard Kajon Mack led the Golden Eagles with 16 points while snagging five rebounds. Fellow graduate guard Shaq Calhoun notched 14 points while hitting four of his five attempts from downtown. Seniors Mason Ramsey and Aleksa Jugovic finished with 10 points and nine points respectively, with Jugovic recording his 23rd straight game with hitting at least one 3-pointer. Curtis Phillips Jr. also tacked on 10 points on the night, as well as five boards, four assists and three steals.
Windler led all scorers with 24 points, while Kevin McClain (17), Amanze Egekeze (14), and Austin Luke (11) all finished in double figures as well.
The Tech squad will return to Nashville Saturday afternoon for an OVC battle with in-state foe Tennessee State. Tip is scheduled for a 4 p.m. CT start following the match-up between the Golden Eagle and Tigers women's teams.
Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information