Enduring an historically low three-point shooting game, Belmont University men’s basketball dropped an 84-73 decision at Eastern Illinois Saturday afternoon. The Bruins committed just nine turnovers in a free-flowing game, but the usually sharpshooting team could not buy a long distance shot.
Belmont – top 10 nationally in three-point field goals per game and annually one of the country’s top perimeter shooting teams – went 3-for-23 from behind the arc in the opening 20 minutes as Eastern Illinois built a 39-26 halftime lead.
The Bruins quickly sliced the deficit to eight points and had a clean three-point look from sophomore Nick Smith
The host Panthers then responded with six straight points to reclaim their double figure lead.
Eastern Illinois, which entered on a six-game winning streak, continued to utilize its substitution pattern of bringing leading scorers Chris Oliver, Trae Anderson, and Reggie Smith off the bench.
Moreover, the Panthers got a huge boost from reserve guard Luke Norman. Norman, who entered with eight total points on the season, scored 10 points in 23 minutes. As more Bruin looks rimmed off, Eastern Illinois built a 64-46 lead with 8:07 left.
The Bruins got inspired play from all angles and battled within seven points twice – and had two shots to get within four late – but both rimmed off.
For the game, Belmont shot 7-for-43 from three-point distance, among its lowest three-point shooting outings since becoming an NCAA Division I member institution in 1996.
Sophomore Evan Bradds
Belmont grabbed 19 offensive rebounds and forced 16 turnovers and now falls to 10-6, 2-1 OVC.