NASHVILLE, Tenn. - - With Senior All-America candidate Dylan Windler (Indianapolis, Ind.) mired in foul trouble, Belmont University men's basketball rose to the occasion in defeating Lipscomb, 87-83, Thursday night.
Windler, who played his fewest minutes vs. an NCAA Division I opponent since his freshman year, was limited to six points in 17 minutes, spending the majority of the evening on the bench after picking up a string of unlucky fouls.
Nevertheless, Belmont began much like it did in its season opening victory over Illinois State; with purpose and conviction.
Five quick points from freshman Caleb Hollander (Nashville, Tenn.) sparked Belmont to a 7-0 lead. And when senior Kevin McClain (Jennings, Fla.) scored consecutive driving baskets, the Bruins built a 13-2 lead.
However, Windler would pick up his second personal foul 40 feet from the basket pursuing a loose ball at the 14:30 mark.
Lipscomb would take advantage.
As the Bruins endured an offensive dry spell, Kenny Cooper got the Bisons within one, 15-14, with 9:08 left in the first half.
Another Hollander 3-pointer momentarily halted Lipscomb momentum, and when freshman Nick Muszynski (Pickerington, Ohio) and Windler strung together scores, the Bruins led 22-19.
But another miserable sequence off a long rebound resulted in Windler collecting his third personal foul with 5:19 remaining in the half.
It would be nearly an hour of real time before Windler returned to game action.
Michael Buckland capped an 11-2 Lipscomb run to give the Bisons a 30-24 edge.
But the Bruins regrouped and closed the half on a 13-4 push of their own; a Hollander 3-pointer and a short jumper from freshman Grayson Murphy (Thompson's Station, Tenn.) gave Belmont a 37-34 lead at halftime.
Belmont shot 53 percent (16-for-30) from the field in the opening 20 minutes - including 4-for-12 from 3-point distance. The Bruins held Lipscomb to 37 percent shooting and forced eight Bison turnovers.
Hollander led Belmont with 13 first half points.
Belmont got two inside baskets from junior Seth Adelsperger (Peru, Ind.) to maintain a 41-38 lead with 18:41 left.
Six different Bruins scored in a three-minute stretch as the lead swelled to 53-43.
Then after a thunderous Muszynski slam, junior Michael Benkert (Greenwood, Ind.) made his second 3-pointer of the half to increase the Belmont lead to 65-46 with 11:37 left.
But Lipscomb worked into the bonus just five and a half minutes into the second half, and its 22 free throw attempts after the break methodically slowed the pace and enabled the Bisons to work back into the game.
That, coupled with a number of Belmont near-steals that resulted in Lipscomb scores, inhibited the Bruins from breaking free.
Two Muszynski free throws gave Belmont a 77-64 lead with 5:37 to go, before the Bisons answered back.
After being held in check from long distance for the majority of the game, Lipscomb sank four consecutive 3-pointers over a 2:25 stretch to get within 77-76 with 3:12 remaining.
But two Bruin free throws and an offensive rebound basket from Hollander pushed the Belmont lead back to five, 81-76, with 2:04 left.
Following a Rob Marberry basket, Murphy buried a dramatic, end-of-shot-clock 3-pointer with 1:12 remaining to make the score 84-78.
And when Belmont broke Lipscomb pressure for a Windler slam, the Bruins led 86-80 with 30 seconds remaining.
But after a deep, contested Garrison Mathews 3-pointer, Murphy missed two consecutive free throws with 16 seconds left.
Lipscomb secured the rebound and worked into the frontcourt with a chance to tie.
But Hollander shot the gap on a Cooper wing entry pass, gathering a steal and racing downcourt.
Despite an off-balanced miss, Belmont freshman Tate Pierson (Brentwood, Tenn.) would secure the loose ball rebound and earn a trip to the free throw line with under two seconds remaining.
Pierson's one free throw provided the final margin.
All told, Belmont shot 55 percent (34-for-62) from the field - including 9-for-22 from 3-point distance. The Bruins outrebounded Lipscomb, 40-28, and blocked eight Bison shots.
Hollander led four Bruins in double figures with a career-high 21 points. He added 11 rebounds for his first career double-double.
Murphy had 17 points, five rebounds and six assists. Muszynski tallied 16 points, nine rebounds, five blocked shots and three assists.
McClain had 16 points and two steals.
Mathews led Lipscomb (2-1) with 27 points.
Belmont (3-0) returns to game action Tuesday, Nov. 20 vs. Trevecca Nazarene. Tip-off is set for 6:30 p.m. CT. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+ and the ESPN app. 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: Belmont has won 12 of the last 14 meetings with Lipscomb, and lead the NCAA Division I era series 21-11 ... Windler had scored in double figures in 29 of his previous 30 games ... Belmont outscored Lipscomb, 44-28, in the paint ... Muszynski has 13 blocked shots in his first three career games ... Pierson's first career point helped secure the game ... Benkert tied a career-high with six points ... With the victory, head coach Rick Byrd tied Lute Olson for 13th in all-time NCAA Division I career victories (781).