Belmont can't measure up in NCAA tournament loss to Arizona

Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 11:33pm

Arizona quickly deep-sixed Belmont from the NCAA Tournament.

The Bruins’ sixth appearance ended just like the other five — with an opening round loss. Belmont, a program-best No. 11 seed, had no answer for the Wildcats’ size and endured one of its worst shooting performances of the season in an 81-64 loss on Thursday night in Salt Lake City.

Excluding a one-point loss to Duke in 2008, the Bruins have lost five NCAA Tournament games by an average of 21 points. Against No. 6 seed Arizona (26-7), Belmont never led and trailed by 21 in the second half.

As has been the case in the previous trips, the Bruins (26-7) couldn’t overcome their size disadvantage. Arizona won the rebounding battle 44-20 and scored twice as many points in the paint with a 36-18 edge. The Wildcats also took away the 3-point shot. Belmont made just eight of 27 (29.6 percent) from beyond the arc.

The Bruins sputtered from the start and fell into a 14-4 hole. A 3-pointer by Ian Clark with 8:33 left in the first half pulled them within two, 16-14. That was as close as they got.

Arizona guard Mark Lyons scored seven straight points to spark a 16-6 run and take a commanding 32-20 lead into halftime. It marked the lowest-scoring first half all season for Belmont.

Also hurting the Bruins’ upset bid was that Arizona rarely missed. After the break, the Wildcats made four of their first five shots to stretch the lead to 18 and dig an even deeper hole for Belmont. Arizona, which finished third in the Pac-12, shot 56.9 percent from the field and 52.9 percent (9-of-17) from 3-point range. Four players scored in double figures, paced by 23 from Lyons.

Belmont cut the deficit to 64-53 with J.J. Mann’s deep 3-pointer with 5:28 left to cap off a 10-0 run. But Kevin Parrom answered right back by slashing to the basket for a layup. Solomon Hill followed that with a rally-ending 3-pointer on the next possession.

Kerron Johnson scored 22 points and Clark added 21 as the backcourt duo played in their final collegiate game. It ended the careers of five Belmont seniors — Johnson, Clark, Trevor Noack, Brandon Baker and Adam Barnes — who accumulated 102 wins, three NCAA Tournament trips, four conference championships and three league tournament titles.

The loss also snapped a four-year NCAA Tournament winning streak for the Ohio Valley Conference, which Belmont joined this season. Starting in 2009, Morehead State and Murray State had each won twice.

10 Comments on this post:

By: Rasputin72 on 3/22/13 at 3:48

Too bad for Belmont. It is amazing howevef that this little school has now caught up with Vanderbilt in talent.

By: 4gold on 3/22/13 at 5:17

Belmont has caught up with the rest of the nation in apprearences without a win. OVC,OVC, OVC. No shot, out manned in every catagory.

Go Dores, Preds, Titans! Go Nashville a great place to live!

By: TITAN1 on 3/22/13 at 5:49

I really thought they would win a couple of games. Congrats on another great season!

By: bruingeek on 3/22/13 at 6:16

I hurt for this team today. I know their hearts and know just how much they wanted a NCAA tournament win. The Bruins gave us some terrific games this season in no small part due to the performance of an outstanding senior class. I love this program and what it does for the university and for Nashville. Even though Belmont lost to Arizona last night, the bar has been raised (again) by another Rick Byrd team. Expect great Belmont basketball in the years to come, built on a solid student-athlete foundation. Go Bruins!

By: jwk6179 on 3/22/13 at 9:34

All week long, all we heard from the members of Nashville Sports Media (George Plaster, Greg Pogue, Mark Howard, Kevin Ingram, etc.) is how Arizona wouldn't be able to handle Belmont and that all these experts from accross the country were picking Belmont to beat Arizona and to make the Sweet 16. Other than the game they played against Duke in 2008 that they lost by a point, none of their other loses in the NCAA Tournament have even been close. Members of the Nashville Sports Media (Homer Central), next time Belmont is in the NCAA Tournament, do us a favor and wait until they actually win a tournament game before you start comparing them to Gonzaga or Butler or even have them going DEEP into the NCAA Tournament.

By: TITAN1 on 3/22/13 at 11:46

jw, its called a prediction. Nobody guaranteed a win. You get upset anytime someone predicts good things for our local teams. Call us Homers if you want, most of us who live here support our local teams. Also, I noticed how you wait until after the game before going on your rant.

By: jwk6179 on 3/22/13 at 1:06

There is a BIG DIFFERENCE between making a prediction and doing what the members of Nashville Sport Media did this week. When you make a prediction, you say things like "I think Belmont will win" or "If Belmont does this, they can win the game", not "There NO WAY ARIZONA can handle Belmont" and "I'll be very surprised if Arizona can even make it close". Those are more than predictions. The main problem with most members of the Nashville Sports Media is they are friends and admirerers of the coaches, owners and adminstrative staffs of the local teams and can't be objective. And most of them act as if they were to ever say ANYTHING CRITICAL of the local Sports teams, be it the Titans, Predators, Belmont or Vandy, on the air or in print, they will lose the press credentials, so if they want to cover the game, they actually have to spend some of their own money on a ticket and food instead of getting FREE ENTRY into the game and free food and drinks in the press box.

By: TITAN1 on 3/22/13 at 1:21

I do agree if they said it like that, they underestimated Arizona. I thought Belmont would come through with a couple of wins because they have good shooters. But, they couldn't hit the broad side of a barn in the first half. No way I would have said that Arizona didn't have a chance.

By: courier37027 on 3/22/13 at 2:27

Tough loss, Bruins. Got to get some inside presence. Nice you led the nation in long range shooting, but those misses mean zero rebounds with little to inside presence. Congratulations on a great season. There is more work to do.

By: Vuenbelvue on 3/23/13 at 11:27

Western Kentucky played a great game against No 1 bracket Kansas. Almost pulled out a huge upset. Belmont is still just a high priced lower echelon team that can't compete with the Big dogs and they spent $500 million in improvements since 2000.