Words cannot do justice to The Battle of the Boulevard on Tuesday night, when the Belmont Bruins and the Lipscomb Bisons met for their historic rivalry at The Curb Event Center.
After Lipscomb center Rob Marberry tied the score at 62 apiece with 2.8 seconds remaining, Belmont forward Evan Bradds chucked the ball cross-court to Dylan Windler who scored the game-winning layup.
Fans were already screaming, but their cheers grew even louder when the scoreboard finally changed to 64-62 to assure Belmont’s victory.
Here are 5 takeaways from the game.
1. Belmont struggled in the first half
Even though the Bruins won, their path to finish line was ugly for significant parts of the game. In fact, through the first quarter, Belmont graded worse than Lipscomb in nearly every statistical category.
Lipscomb scored more points than Belmont (37 to 24), shot better from the court (39% vs. 28%), committed fewer turnovers (11 vs. 2), generated more steals (6 vs. 2), had more assists (5 vs. 4), and attempted more free throws (13 vs. 8).
The Bruins, in large part, stayed within 13-points through half thanks to the play of Evan Bradds and Austin Luke. Together they shot 6-of-9 from the field to score 16 of Belmont’s 24 points.
In the same period, no other Bruin scored more than two points.
2. Belmont dominated the second half
The narrative of the game changed entirely from the first half to the second.
Belmont scored more points than Lipscomb (40 vs. 25), shot better from the court (37% vs. 28%), had more assists (9 vs. 3), generated more steals (6 vs. 5), and had fewer turnovers (8 vs. 12).
Moreover, the best stretch of Bruins’ basketball came in the second half. From 18:00 to 15:00, Belmont carried out an 11-0 run, thanks to a strong defensive effort that forced three Lipscomb turnovers, and thanks to Nick Smith and Austin Luke who scored a series of shots from beyond the arc.
Afterwards, Belmont trailed by just 6-points (46-40), which set the team within striking distance for the final 15 minutes.
3. The Bruins led the game for less than 60 seconds
It is hard to believe, but in 40 minutes of total play, Belmont led for less than a minute.
The Bruins took their first lead with 4:33 remaining in the second quarter, when Amaze Egekeze scored a layup, was fouled by Aaron Korn, and hit the and-one to bring the score to 55-54.
15 second later, Marberry scored a layup and returned the edge to Lipscomb.
The Bruins got their second and final lead with 45 seconds remaining.
Taylor Barnette scored on an assist from Bradds to bring the score to 61-60, and Belmont held onto this edge for the remainder of the game — minus of course, the 2.8 seconds when both teams were tied at 62 apiece.
4. Game ball goes to Rob Marberry
Although game balls usually go to the best player on the winning team, it is hard to argue against giving it to Marberry.
The 6-7, 215-pound center from Franklin, Tennessee, was the best performer between both teams on Tuesday night.
He had seven rebounds, two blocks, and converted all 11 of his field goal attempts — the last of which would have brought the game to overtime if not for Belmont’s last-second heroics.
However, it would be remiss not to mention Evan Bradds as well. The reigning OVC Player of the Year recovered from last week’s concussion in order to tally 24 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists and a steal.
5. The rematch between these two will be worth watching in a week
When The Battle of the Boulevard returns to Nashville on December 6, it will take place at the Allen Arena of Lipscomb University, just several miles down the road from The Curb.
Based on the drama of this matchup, you can bet the rematch will be entertaining.
Lipscomb looks to redeem their loss while Belmont looks to win their eleventh consecutive game against the Bisons.