When you are a coach, the thing that has to eat at you is if you make an adjustment too late.
You almost have to imagine that Rick Byrd is doubting his timing Thursday night.
With his Belmont Bruins scuffling in the second half, he made two crucial switches: changing to a 2-3 zone, and increasing his pressure out to full court. The moves worked, but Eastern Kentucky had already built a 13-point lead.
It would prove to be too much as the Colonels pushed to a 74-63 win against the defending OVC champs.
Belmont just couldn't take advantage often enough during its little scheme change. Despite taking 30 3-point shots in the game -- compared to just 18 shot inside the arc -- the Bruins hit just nine. At the free throw line, they hit just under 70 percent.
When they had chances to pull closer than the seven points they were able to cut the lead to, the shots just wouldn't fall. One of two free throws isn't going to break a double-digit lead.
But such is what happens when you go more than five minutes without a basket against a team that is faster than you, a team that is executing better, a team that doesn't turn the ball over 20 times in a ball game.
Yes, Eastern Kentucky was better in every facet of the game Thursday night. The Colonels shot 52 percent from the floor. They held onto the ball better. It just seemed they wanted to win this more.
Even with the loss of Corey Walden on offense, the Colonels refused to let the lead they built get away. Walden fouled out with two minutes left, just as the Bruins began their last gasp atttempt, down nine. He still led the Colonels in scoring with 18 points, including going 4-for-7 from 3-point range.
Glenn Cosey added 13 points and Marcus Lewis had four steals and eight points, including a SportsCenter Top 10 nominee dunk that ignited the home crowd and effectively ended the comeback for Belmont.
Craig Bradshaw led the way for Belmont with 22 points, but even he was just 6-for-14 from the floor. Drew Windler dropped in 12, but had five turnovers, and J.J. Mann was atypically cold, going just 4-for-12 and totalling 10 on the night.
The loss is just the sixth conference defeat for Belmont since the beginning of the 2010-11 season. If you want to know why they always get their opponent's best, just let that sink in for a little while.
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