The Spring Hill College men's basketball team faced its third consecutive NAIA Top 20 opponent in a 5-day time span on Monday night and came away with a 77-63 loss to the No. 12 Belhaven University at Heidelberg Gymnasium.
Down 17-12 seven minutes into the game, the Badgers stormed back to claim a 23-21 lead with 7:03 on the clock following a jumper by junior Greg Gardner. The Badgers and Blazers essentially traded baskets for the rest of the half, but Belhaven stretched out a 36-33 bulge just before the half.
The Badgers' Antonio Burch nailed a 3-point shot 90 seconds into the second half to make the game 39-38 in favor of the Blazers, but Belhaven then went on a 9-minute 23-10 run to build a 62-48 lead at the 8:07 mark as the Blazers found ways to out-muscle the Badgers underneath the baskets as well as hit their jump shots from the outside.
The hole only got deeper for the Badgers at 70-48 with 5:38 on the clock marking the largest Belhaven lead of the game.
Burch led the Badgers with 16 points as Owen McNally and Nick Brown each had 11 points. Brown also pulled in 10 boards for his sixth double/double performance of the year.
Belhaven (17-2, 7-0 GCAC) was led by Cowen Tensley with 13 points and Rob Wallace pitched in 11 points.
The Badgers were 24-71 (33.8%) from the field including 10-of-25 (40%) from 3-point distance. The Blazers made 32 of their 75 shots (42.7%) and hit six of their 16 3-point attempts (37.5%).
The SHC defense forced Belhaven into 14 turnovers in the face of five Badger steals while the Blazers benefited from 15 SHC turnovers off seven takeaways by BU. SHC also lost the rebounding war by a 52-40 margin.
Spring Hill (10-6, 4-3 GCAC) will next travel to New Orleans, La., to face long-time rival Loyola University (12-6, 4-3 GCAC) at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday at "The Den."