Jordan Campbell’s seventh 3-pointer appeared to be the dagger. It wasn’t.
His eighth looked it would be the clincher. It wasn’t.
Instead, it was a charge he drew that sealed Belmont’s 88-87 double overtime victory against visiting Middle Tennessee State on Tuesday night at the Curb Event Center. It ended a crazy game, which saw MTSU rally from a 13-point second-half deficit.
Campbell, a 6-foot-5 senior forward, sunk eight 3-pointers for 24 points – both career-highs – but the offensive foul he drew with six seconds left in the second overtime proved to be a difference-maker.
Clinging to an 86-84 lead, Campbell and Mick Hedgepeth both got in position when Middle Tennessee’s James Washington drove in the lane. Washington made contact as he let a shot fly and both Campbell and Hedgepeth fell to the ground. It was called an offensive foul on Washington. Belmont’s Jon House then was fouled and hit two big free throws for a four-point lead with 4.7 seconds to go.
“I think it might have been me and Mick Hedgepeth combined. It was like a double charge kind of thing,” Campbell said with a grin. “I can’t complain about the officiating right there. That was a big play right there.”
In the first overtime, Middle Tennessee State (4-5) went ahead 78-76 with 52 seconds remaining on a jumper by Jason Jones. Campbell responded on the next possession with his eighth 3-pointer, which was the most at the Curb Event Center in more than three years, for a one-point lead. After a MTSU miss, Belmont’s Kerron Johnson made just one of two free throws.
That left the door open for the Blue Raiders. Emanuel drove inside and laid in a basket with less than a second to go to extend the game.
“That is a hard call. You don’t want to give up the 3 to get beat,” Belmont coach Rick Byrd said. “You end up one-on-one. He is just a good player and he beat his man one-on-one. We couldn’t give him any help.”
In the second overtime, Belmont (6-2) jumped out to an 86-80 lead but four free throws and a couple Bruins turnovers allowed MTSU a chance to tie. The Blue Raiders didn’t get a blocking foul on Washington’s drive, which drew a lot of emotion from Middle Tennessee State coach Kermit Davis. One of the referees got in Davis’ face, which resulted in a screaming match by the two but no technical foul with the game on the line.
Ian Clark picked up his fourth foul midway through the second half but scored 15 points for Belmont and Hedgepeth added 10. J.T Sulton, Jones and Emanuel each scored 19 points for Middle Tennessee State.
Belmont led 74-61 with 8:32 left on Campbell’s seventh 3-pointer. It was the Bruins’ largest lead and it appeared they would cruise to a victory.
MTSU chopped into the lead, though. The Blue Raiders went on a 19-5 run and went ahead 70-69 on two free throws from Rod Emanuel with 30 seconds left.
“Our 1-3-1 (zone defense) hurt them and it kind of got us back,” Middle Tennessee State coach Kermit Davis said. “We trapped them high and wide. Belmont is a great rhythm offensive team. I thought it took them out of their rhythm a little bit.”
Hedgepeth tied it with a free throw with 11 seconds left. After an MTSU turnover on the inbounds pass, Campbell had a chance to win it in regulation but his 3-pointer from the left side went off the front of the rim.
Campbell made more than he missed, though. The Indianapolis native was 8-for-14 from 3-point range. His previous best in a game was four 3-pointers. He showed a glimpse of his range against Vanderbilt on Saturday, making 3-of-4 from long range for 12 points. Still, this was even surprising to Campbell.
“I was just feeling it tonight,” Campbell said. “Coach is always telling me to shoot. I think this game shows a lot to my teammates and myself that I can shoot with the best of them.”
And take charges with the best of them.
• The Belmont women’s basketball team played earlier on Tuesday and edged Tennessee State 80-66.
The Bruins (3-5) were led by Shaunda Strayhorn’s 26 points and Haley Nelson added 11. For the Tigers (3-6), Meredith
Strafford had 16 points and Simone Hopes scored 15.
• Campbell’s 14 3-point attempts were the most ever by an individual against Middle Tennessee.
• It was the second straight overtime game for Middle Tennessee, which defeated Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on the road on Saturday.