NASHVILLE, Tenn.- The Belmont Bruins’ hot hand from beyond the three-point line put the Mercer men’s basketball team in a early hole as the Bears wrapped up a two-game road swing through Nashville with a 96-60 A-Sun Conference loss at Belmont Monday night at the Curb Event Center.
Belmont (8-7, 6-2 A-Sun) shot a blistering 61.5 percent on eight-of 13 treys inside the first 10 minutes of the opening half to open up a 26-9 lead midway through the period. Eight of the Bruins’ first nine baskets were 3-pointers.
Mercer (3-10, 2-5 A-Sun) scored the first basket of the contest on senior guard Andrew Brown’s jumper, giving Mercer its only lead of the night. Belmont answered with its outside game, eventually pushing out to a 27-point lead.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Brown cut the deficit to 20 inside the final five minutes and a trey by junior Ross Alacqua at the 3:08 mark further cut the Belmont lead to 17, at 46-29 but the Bears could get no closer, with a Michael Slonaker layup at the halftime buzzer setting the 56-32 score at intermission.
“I’m very frustrated,” said Mercer head coach Mark Slonaker. “I’m disappointed, and we may need to shake up the starting lineup. We need to tighten up the ship. Andrew Brown and Sam Dolan showed good leadership in the locker room at halftime.”
Belmont opened the second half much like the opening half, hitting three straight 3-pointers to open a 30-point lead, and eventually opened a 44-point cushion with just over seven minutes left in the game.
Mercer, which shot 38.7 percent for the game, was led in scoring by Brown, who dropped in a game-high 18 points, including 13 in the first half, while also collecting a game-high eight rebounds. Sophomore forward Sam Dolan added 12 points in his second career start.
The Bruins placed five players in double figures, led by guard Justin Hare’s 17 points.
The Bears, who are still seeking their first road win of the season, have dropped 10 consecutive games away from home and remain winless at Belmont in six attempts.
Mercer, which has played 10 of its 13 games on the road, returns to the friendly confines of the University Center for a brief two-game homestand, playing host to league-leader Kennesaw State Thursday at 7 p.m. The game will mark the first meeting on the hardwood between the two schools.