Strong Conference Start

Photo Courtesy: Lindsey Wasson
Photo Courtesy: Lindsey Wasson

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - - Behind 21 points each from senior Amanze Egekeze (Lake in the Hills, Ill.) and freshman Nick Hopkins (Fayetteville, Tenn.), Belmont University men's basketball defeated Southeast Missouri, 94-72, Thursday night.

Belmont has won 15 of its last 16 conference openers.

The Bruins demonstrated supreme precision, teamwork and attention to detail from the opening tip, holding the Redhawks to one field goal the first 6:36 of the game.

Meanwhile, five different Bruins scored in the first six minutes as a Hopkins 3-pointer gave Belmont an 18-5 lead.

Consecutive baskets from sophomore Seth Adelsperger (Peru, Ind.) and freshman Grayson Murphy (Thompson's Station, Tenn.) pushed the margin to 22-7 less than eight minutes in, forcing a Southeast Missouri timeout.

Belmont battled foul trouble, and behind the play of Daniel Simmons the hosts worked back into the game.

But four quick points from junior Mack Mercer (Plymouth, Ind.) and another Hopkins 3-pointer made the score 34-18 at the 8:00 mark.

The Bruins exhibited poise and unselfishness in spacing the floor and working for high percentage shots.

Belmont led 47-36 at halftime.

The Bruins shot 54 percent (19-for-35) from the field in the opening 20 minutes - including 8-for-16 from 3-point distance.

Hopkins led Belmont with 12 first half points.

Baskets from junior Dylan Windler (Indianapolis, Ind.) and McClain gave Belmont a 53-38 lead with 16:58 remaining.

Ledarrius Brewer almost single-handedly kept the Redhawks within arm's reach with a stretch of deep, contested 3-pointers.

But Egekeze scored 19 of his 21 points after halftime - going perfect from the field and the free throw line - delivering from inside and outside.

Windler capped an 8-0 Bruin run to make the score 82-60 with 5:47 left. 

From there, 14 Egekeze points over a seven minute stretch gave Belmont a 90-65 lead with 2:37 to go.

All told, Belmont shot 60 percent (36-for-60) from the field - including 14-for-28 from 3-point distance. The Bruins handed out 21 assists and outrebounded Southeast Missouri, 34-29.

Egekeze and Hopkins led four Bruins in double figures with 21 points each. Windler narrowly missed his 10th double-double of the season with 16 points and nine rebounds, while McClain added 12.

Brewer led Southeast Missouri (6-8, 0-1 OVC) with 21 points.

Belmont (9-5, 1-0 OVC) returns to game action Saturday, Dec. 30 at UT Martin. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. CT. The game will be broadcast on OVC Digital Network. The live play-by-play of the Voice of the Bruins Kevin Ingram can be heard on the Bruin Sports Network. In-game updates will be available via Twitter @BelmontMBB.

NOTES: Belmont improves to 6-0 vs. Southeast Missouri ... The Bruins are averaging 99.7 points per game in three victories at Southeast Missouri ... Egekeze becomes the first Bruin to go perfect from the field (min. seven FGA) and free throw line in a game since Evan Bradds in his final game at the Curb Event Center (vs. Tennessee State, 2/25/17) ... Belmont outscored Southeast Missouri, 38-16, in points in the paint, and 37-14, in bench points ... Austin Luke had eight assists ... Mack Mercer, Tyler Hadden and Seth Adelsperger combined on 18 points and eight rebounds ... Windler added four assists and three blocked shots.