JOE BIDDLE: Bruins came out hot to rout Lipscomb - WKRN News 2

JOE BIDDLE: Bruins came out hot to rout Lipscomb


Give Belmont basketball coach Rick Byrd credit. Or blame.

It used to be one could drive up to Striplin or McQuiddy Gyms, park near the front entrance and grab a seat of their choice.

No longer. Those days have vanished. Both Lipscomb and Belmont have relative new facilities. Now you do good to find a parking place in the same zip code.

The Battle of the Boulevard has turned into madhouse hoops.

When former Lipscomb Coach Don Meyer had has program rocking and rolling, Byrd was taking over a struggling Belmont program. When he caught up to Meyer, that's when the Battle really got heated up. Now Belmont has pretty much taken control in recent years.

Wednesday night's game was all-Belmont from the opening tip. The Bruins didn't have a letdown from the school's biggest win, at North Carolina.

Instead they came out on fire and continued pouring gas on it. Former Byrd assistant coach Casey Alexander kept calling timeouts in hopes of slowing the Bruins down. It was all to no avai . It was 47-26 at halftime, and the Bison couldn't stop the bleeding in the second half, as they posted a 94-64 victory.

They dominated inside (48-28 in the paint) and from beyond the 3-point stripe (30-18 points).

The Bruins placed five players in double figures as they swept this season's two-game series and ran their Boulevard streak to five straight wins.

Byrd was genuinely worried that his team might suffer a letdown after upsetting No. 12-ranked North Carolina in Chapel Hill Sunday, but his fears were quickly answered.

"I think it was good that it was Lipscomb. I think if it had been somebody named something else, it would have been a tougher chore,'' Byrd said. "And I think they were excited to play. They have been excited since we came from behind 16 down at half to beat Indiana State.

"I think they just wanted to play another game because of the way things are going.''

Freshman Evan Bradds came off the bench to lead the way with a career-high 19 points and a team high eight rebounds. Former CPA star Craig Bradshaw put in 16 points, had five boards, two assists and three steals. Nick Smith chipped in a career-high 10 points.

It marked Belmont's NCAA leading 22 straight home wins as the Bruins have now won 43 of 44 games at the Curb Event Center.

The ability to get out of the gates quickly was something Byrd talked to his team about.

"The last thing Casey (Alexander) and his staff wanted was for us to look like we really wanted the game and for his players to see that,'' Byrd said. "That's why we wanted to do that.''

JJMann continued his solid play with a 17-point, six rebound effort.

"It was not too shabby at all,'' Mann said. "You can't complain about a 30-point win at home. Coach Byrd said right after the North Carolina game that the Wednesday game was more important. We came out ready, got off to a good start and took care of business.''   

Bradshaw has watched this rivalry since he was a kid in Ridgetop.

"It's awesome,'' he said. "Definitely getting a career high is big, but this is a good team win for us. Beating Lipscomb is always fun.

"We did a great job on the scouting report. Coach (Bryan) Ayers did a really good job of scouting and we took it more serious and ended up playing really well.''

Contact Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at

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