Fight to the Finish

Fight to the Finish

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - - Belmont University men's basketball dropped a 64-60 decision to Jacksonville State Saturday.

The Bruins, seventh nationally in 3-point field goals per game, shot 7-for-34 from behind the arc.

It marked just the second home loss for Belmont since joining the OVC in 2012-13.

"Jacksonville State was the better team today," Belmont head coach Rick Byrd said. "They took us out of a lot of what we wanted to do. I thought we fought like crazy to give ourselves a chance in the final three minutes. We will use this opportunity to get better as a team in practice."

After a 25-25 first half, Jacksonville State rode strong defense and timely shooting, taking a 52-35 lead on a conventional 3-point play from Cam Martin.

Belmont stormed back behind the inspired play of junior Kevin McClain (Jennings, Fla.) and seniors Amanze Egekeze (Lake in the Hills, Ill.) and Austin Luke (Rowlett, Texas).

A Luke free throw capped a 19-6 run and made the score 58-54 with 1:56 remaining.

But when his second free throw attempt to cut the margin to three points rimmed out, the rebound was tipped out past midcourt and found the waiting arms of Tyrik Edwards for a momentum swinging layin.

The Bruins created several opportunities down the stretch, creating turnovers with pressure defense, but icy shooting and empty free throw trips stifled the comeback push.

A Marlon Hunter basket with 33 seconds left made the score 64-57. 

McClain led Belmont with 19 points and five steals.

Malcolm Drumwright led Jacksonville State (12-5, 3-1 OVC) with 11 points.

Belmont (11-6, 3-1 OVC) returns to game action Thursday, Jan. 11 at SIU Edwardsville. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. CT. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Midwest and Fox Sports Southeast. The live play-by-play of Voice of the Bruins Kevin Ingram can be heard on the Bruin Sports Network. In-game updates will be available via Twitter @BelmontMBB.

NOTES: Dylan Windler tallied his 10th double-double of the season with 12 points and 11 rebounds ... Belmont outrebounded Jacksonville State, 37-30, grabbing a season-high 17 offensive rebounds ... Belmont forced 18 turnovers, on a seaon-high 12 steals.