MOREHEAD, Ky. - - Behind a game-high 25 points from junior Kevin McClain (Jennings, Fla.), Belmont University men's basketball defeated Morehead State, 83-73, Saturday.
Belmont (19-6, 11-1 OVC) has won 14 of its last 15 games, and joins the exclusive company of Duke, Gonzaga, and Michigan State as programs to win 19 or more games 13 consecutive seasons.
McClain and senior Tyler Hadden (Cincinnati, Ohio) combined on Belmont's first 10 points as the Bruins seized an early six point lead.
Senior Amanze Egekeze (Lake in the Hills, Ill.) – fresh off a 30-point performance at Eastern Kentucky – picked up two personal fouls in the first 3:55 of the game, and was forced to sidelines the remainder of the half.
Nevertheless, Belmont showcased its balance and unselfishness. A 3-pointer from freshman Nick Hopkins (Fayetteville, Tenn.) and a conventional 3-point play from Hadden increased the lead to 10, 24-14, nine minutes in.
After a determined drive and finish from senior Burton Sampson (Knoxville, Tenn.), Morehead State closed within 33-26 on a basket from A.J. Hicks.
But junior Dylan Windler (Indianapolis, Ind.) helped Belmont close the first half on a 10-3 run, and lead 43-30 at halftime.
Belmont shot 53 percent (16-for-30) from the field in the opening 20 minutes – including 3-for-11 from 3-point distance. The Bruins forced eight Eagle turnovers which led to 12 Belmont points.
Hadden led Belmont with 13 first half points, while senior Austin Luke (Rowlett, Texas) had five assists.
Consecutive 3-pointers from Hopkins and McClain increased the lead to 17, 53-36, with 16:41 remaining.
And while junior Mack Mercer (Plymouth, Ind.) complemented Hadden with quality post scoring, a Lamontray Harris basket got Morehead State within 58-51 with 9:40 left.
But five more McClain points and a conventional 3-point play from Mercer punctuated a 12-2 Belmont response and gave the Bruins a 70-53 lead with 6:52 left.
All told, Belmont shot 53 percent (28-for-53) from the field – including 5-for-12 from 3-point distance in the second half.
McClain led five Bruins in double figures with 25 points. Hadden added 15.
Windler recorded his 11th double-double of the season with 13 points and 14 rebounds. Mercer had 12, while Hopkins scored 10.
Londell King led Morehead State (6-17, 2-10 OVC) with 16 points.
Belmont returns to game action Thursday, Feb. 8 at Tennessee State. Tip-off is set for 7:30 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 10-2 vs. Morehead State ... Belmont had six double figure scorers in last season's victory vs. Morehead State (2/18/17) ... Luke has 54 assists over his last seven games ... Mercer has scored in double figures four of his five career games vs. Morehead State ... Hadden registered double figures for the third time in his last four games … Hopkins has 10 double figure scoring games this season … Akron, BYU, Kansas, Louisville, North Carolina, San Diego State, VCU and Wisconsin also have the opportunity to join the aforementioned "19+ win club" later this season.