Adnan Hodzic’s incredible streak is over, and Lipscomb’s woes are not.
Hodzic’s streak of 72 straight games with at least 10 points ended but it appeared Lipscomb has bigger worries as it fell to host Belmont 88-52 in front of a sellout crowd of 5,123 at the Curb Event Center on Thursday night in this season’s first installment of the Battle of the Boulevard series.
It was Lipscomb’s worst loss against Belmont — or any Atlantic Sun Conference team, for that matter — in a series that started in 1953. And it was the second-most lopsided game between the two teams (Belmont lost 105-68 on Nov. 26, 1986, when both teams were still in the NAIA).
Hodzic, a 6-foot-8, 245-pound senior forward, had just seven points and spent the last 3:50 on the bench stunned as the Bisons have lost five of seven.
“When I caught the ball, they were swarming me and I really couldn’t do much, going up against three guys,” Hodzic said. “We knew they were going to have a great scheme. I just tried to get deep [inside] on them and I didn’t do a good job of that obviously.”
The last time Hodzic scored fewer than 10 points was Nov. 15, 2008, against Oakland City. In that game he was hurt on the tip-off and only played three seconds.
Belmont forward Scott Saunders not only finished with 11 points and seven rebounds, but played a big hand in shutting down Hodzic, who was just 3-of-7 from the field and had just one point at halftime.
“That last part is definitely icing on the cake,” Saunders said. “Just laying it on there for 40 minutes really feels good.”
The assault began early with Belmont jumping out to a 20-3 lead just six minutes in as the Bruins scored in a variety of ways — via tip-ins, jumpers, fastbreak layups and 3-pointers.
Lipscomb (9-7, 4-3 A-Sun) never got closer than 14 after that as the deficit ballooned to 42 points in the second half.
Belmont put together runs of 13-3 and 14-0 to ease to its sixth straight win and 10th in its last 11. The Bruins (15-3, 7-0) are off to their best start in Atlantic Sun history.
“I think the great thing about our team is that we are not into sending messages,” guard Drew Hanlen said. “I think we are just trying to go out and play the best we can every single night. Hopefully after the game, they have the message.”
Added Saunders: “I thought it was a pretty nice message.”
Hanlen matched a career-high with 17 points and Mick Hedgepeth added 15 points and 10 rebounds. Ian Clark and Kerron Johnson each had 12 points. Belmont shot 50 percent from the field in the first half and 47.6 percent for the game. The Bruins were 13-of-31 (41.9 percent) from 3-point range.
For Lipscomb, Brandon Barnes had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Senior guard Josh Slater scored just five points and got into foul trouble, picking up his fourth foul with nearly 14 minutes to play. The Bisons started 3-of-17 from the field, shot 24.3 percent in the first half and just 29.7 percent for the game. It was the third time in their last seven games that they have scored fewer than 60 points.
“They have been doing what they have been doing and we played the way we have been playing and if that would have happened we were going to get beat bad,” Lipscomb coach Scott Sanderson said. “We never got into rhythm because of what they did.”
Lipscomb will get a few days to lick its wounds before it hosts Campbell on Monday. Belmont, on the other hand, will entertain Campbell on Saturday at the Curb Event Center.
The Bisons and Bruins will get together again in less than two weeks on Jan. 25 at Lipscomb’s Allen Arena.
“In two weeks it will be a whole different ballgame,” Belmont coach Rick Byrd said. “This is an anomaly.”
Lipscomb certainly hopes so.
• The win snapped three straight losses for Belmont in the series as the Bruins were swept by Lipscomb last year.
• It was Lipscomb’s worst Atlantic Sun loss since joining the league in 2002. It was also the Bisons' worst NCAA Division I loss since moving up in 1999. They lost to Furman by 30 points in 2003.
• The Belmont women were also victorious, scratching out a 56-52 win against Lipscomb on Thursday.
The Bruins (7-9, 4-3 A-Sun) led by as many as 16 points in the second half before holding off the Bisons (7-9, 4-3). Belmont was led by Haley Nelson’s 18 points. Molly Ernst added 12 and Cacy Burtnett had 11. Lipscomb was paced by Jenna Bartsokas’ 15 points and Anna Bowers chipped in 12.