Belmont rallies to defeat WKU, 64-63

Senior guard T.J. Price walks to the locker room following the conclusion of WKU’s 64-63 loss to Belmont on Saturday. The Bruins hit a three pointer with 14 seconds remaining to win the game, as WKU fell to 1-2 on the season. Brandon Carter/HERALD

Billy Rutledge

Belmont’s Nick Smith missed his first eight shots from 3-point range. But his shot got hot when it mattered.

Smith hit two 3-pointers and Craig Bradshaw added another as the Bruins came-back from 15-points down to defeat WKU 64-63 Saturday night in Diddle Arena. Belmont only led for 1:05 as Smith’s 3-pointer gave Belmont the lead with 12 seconds remaining in the game.

Senior guard T.J. Price was unable to make a buzzer-beating jumper on the following possession, giving WKU it’s second straight loss heading into the NIT Season Tip-off in New York.

“We gave them opportunities,” Head coach Ray Harper said. “We left some points at the free throw line, some key turnovers, maybe miscommunication on a play or two. They are a very smart, disciplined basketball team and they made the plays, they made shots.”

The Bruins trailed WKU 58-49 with 3:47 remaining before going on a 15-5 run to win the game. Back-to-back threes tied the game at 60 with 1:16 remaining. After a free throw by the Bruins, Price converted a 3-point play to give WKU a two-point lead. One final three from Belmont was the final bucket of the night as WKU dropped its second straight contest.

“The tough thing is it was right there in our grasps with three minutes to go,” Harper said. “If we just take care of the ball and make free throws…You’re not going to win shooting 33 percent from the free throw line.”

WKU was 4-for-12 from the line, which included senior forward George Fant’s 0-for-6 mark. Fant finished the game with six points and nine rebounds going 3-for-8 from the field.

Sophomore guard Chris Harrison-Docks scored a career-high 21 points in 36 minutes and was 8-of-13 from the field, including four triples.

Price was the only other Hilltopper to reach double figures with 15 points. He played all 40 minutes against the Bruins and had nine rebounds to go along with six assists.

WKU was able to jump out to an early lead thanks to the play from sophomore forward Ben Lawson. Lawson, who earned his third career start, scored two of the first three buckets for the Hilltoppers and finished with six points and three blocks.

“I don’t think they expected it,” Lawson said. “We were really focusing on weak-side bigs and how they were going to effect the game more…I felt T.J. found some great passes to me really early on.”

Bruins guard Evan Bradds led all in scoring with 24 points. Bradds was 2-for-2 from 3-point range. As a unit, the Bruins finished with a 27 percent 3-point percentage going 9-for-33 beyond the arc.

“We lost. It’s over with,” Price said. “We just have to get back in the gym, practice and once again keep working on our defense. We’re going to be alright.”

WKU’s next game will be at Stony Brook Tuesday for NIT Season Tip-Off event.