Belmont again threatens, falls to top 10 opponent

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 2:22pm
Staff reports

J.J. Mann scored a career-high 18 points, but Belmont lost its second straight to a top 10 opponent, 97-81 at 10th-ranked Memphis on Thursday.

The game, part of the EA Sports Maui Invitational, tipped off at 11 a.m. (CST) and was part of ESPN’s Tip-Off Marathon, 24 consecutive hours of live college basketball games on the network.

The Bruins (0-2) trailed by seven at intermission but opened the second half with a 3-pointer by Mann, which made it 46-42. Memphis built a comfortable advantage with 13 of the next 15 points.

Mann then scored six points in a 14-3 run to help cut an 18-point, deficit to seven, 73-66, with 8:19 to go. The Bruins got no closer the rest of the way.

It was similar to the start of the game when, after an early 4-3 lead on free throws by Ian Clark and Kerron Johnson, Belmont surrendered 13 unanswered points.

Mann scored the Bruins’ first field goal on a layup 6:31 into the contest and followed with a 3-pointer and another layup — all within a minute. Belmont eventually got within two on several occasions, the last time at 34-32 after a Mick Hedgepeth layup with 4:17 to play in the half, but never regained the lead.

The Bruins, who opened the season with a 77-76 loss to No. 6 Duke on Friday, got 16 points from Clark, a Memphis-area native, and 13 points, eight rebounds and six assists from Johnson.

Memphis (1-0) shot 58.6 percent from the field and had three players score at least 20 points. Wesley Witherspoon was a perfect 8-for-8 from the field (3-for-3 on 3-pointers) and finished with 22 points, one short of leading scorer Will Barton (23 points). Joe Jackson added 20 points and six assists.