It is hard to say that a team that scored 88 points, and almost pulled off a 10-point comeback in the final five minutes looked tired. But Belmont, fresh off playing four games in 10 days, from Milwaukee, to Arizona, to Nashville, the Evansville, looked worn down.
Despite all of that, Belmont still shot an amazing 55.6 percent from the floor, but couldn't get really rolling from 3-point range, and fell to Evansville, 93-88.
The game was certainly dominated by the scorers on both sides. Edigijus Mockevicius was a power inside and scored 26 points, including 10 from the free throw line as Belmont's smaller squad had to foul to try and keep him in check. He added 14 rebounds, towering over the Bruins.
Star guard D.J. Balentine was just a good, scoring 27 points and adding five assists as he drove the offense.
But maybe the story of the day was Evan Bradds who was a perfect 13-for-13 from the floor for Belmont, as he scored 28 points and pulled in 14 rebounds, 13 on the defensive end. Bradds was just practically everything for the Belmont offense, but he isn't a 3-point shooter -- although he made a nice one at the top of the key in the closing minutes to keep the Bruins in it.
As a team, the Bruins were just 9-for-30 from behind the arc, a solid 30 percent, but this was a day when they needed more. Add in a 2-for-5 performance at the charity stripe for Nick Smith and you can see how close Belmont actually was to earning the win despite all of the additions to their frequent flyer accounts.
Although it was also clear that Evansville put this one into cruise control once the lead reached double-digits. You could almost see the Purple Aces players holding back and trying to slow the game.
Free throw shooting aside -- both sides shot under 70 percent from the line -- this was a game where two offenses executed well and a reason why both these teams are going to be feared later in the year. The two squads combined for 47 assists on 66 shots, and moved the ball well against the other teams. These are two teams that give you very different looks, but both are well coached and they have goals beyond a win in November.
That win belonged to Evansville today, maybe thanks to some fresher legs. But Belmont also showed that they won't give up the fight despite the score, or the factors against them. And that will pay dividends as this season moves on.