Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bruins Learn Lesson from Rival Bisons to Advance

For the second-straight General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Men’s Basketball Conference Championship, the event opened with a regular-season champion from Nashville facing Kennesaw State as the eighth seed.

A year ago, the Owls stunned Lipscomb, costing the Bisons a postseason opportunity. Kennesaw State opened Wednesday’s first half with intentions of repeating its upset ways, taking a 23-16 lead against the favored Bruins.

True to their ways, however, the Bruins turned their depth and the 3-point shot to flip the lead and close the half up seven. Four different players hit 3-pointers and eight total players scored over the final 6:30 of the first half as the Bruins scored 19 of the final 24 points of the opening stanza to take a 35-28 lead.

The Bruins pushed the lead to 10 early in the second half and never saw their led dip back into single digits over the final 17 minutes as they advanced to the semifinals with a 72-57 win.

“Coached talked about 1-8 game and I believe that when you get to the tournament it’s 0-0,” All-Atlantic Sun guard Ian Clark said. “It doesn’t matter what your record was before hand. Anybody can win and Kennesaw knew that coming out last year and I am pretty sure they had [Lipscomb’s loss] it in mind this year.”

Head coach Rick Byrd turned to one of his favorite hobbies to find the proper analogy when describing Kennesaw State’s early effort.

“You are always told as a golfer you expect your opponent to make the putt that way you are not surprised,” Byrd, the A-Sun’s Coach of the Year said. “And that is what I told them. We need to expect their best shot and we need to expect them to play well.”

Belmont’s next opponents shouldn’t offer up any surprises. The Bruins will face either long-time rival Lipscomb or the host Mercer, a school they faced and beat last week, in the semifinals. The Bisons and Bears own the last two defeats of the Bruins. Mercer ended Belmont’s 2010 season at the A-Sun Championships and Lipscomb handed Belmont its lone conference loss of the season.

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