The Briar Cliff men’s basketball team saw its season come to an end early Friday morning in the opening round of the NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball Tournament in Point Lookout, Missouri with Bellevue edging BC by a final score of 80-75. The loss gives the Chargers a 26-8 overall record this season, while Bellevue advances to the Sweet 16 to face York on Friday at 4 p.m.
The game was originally scheduled to begin at 9:15 p.m. but due to a tornado warning in the area earlier in the day Keeter Gym had to be evacuated and games were pushed back. The final whistle blew at 12:20 a.m. on Friday morning after the game started after 10:30 p.m. on Thursday night. The game itself was tightly contested throughout with the lead changing hands 12 times, there were six ties and neither team had a lead of more than eight in the matchup. Bellevue led 43-40 at intermission and outscored the Cliff 37-35 in the second half to preserve the five point win. One of the biggest shots of the game came with 25 seconds left in regulation when Jalen Hall hit a corner-three to put Bellevue up 78-73. Erich Erdman pulled the Cliff back within two points at 78-75 with a driving layup. The Chargers then forced a jump ball with 17 seconds left to regain possession but a costly turnover with 5.5 seconds left in the game gave the Bruins the ball back and a pair of Mike Cardenas free throws iced the game for Bellevue.
A big story of the game was the Bruin defense in the second half. Briar Cliff made nine 3-pointers in the first half but were able to only convert three times from beyond the arc after coming out of the locker room. For the game, the Chargers shot 43.9 percent from the field, 41.4 percent from long range and 76.5 percent from the free throw line, while the Bruins shot 49.1 percent from the field, 47.4 percent from beyond the arc and 75.0 from the charity stripe. Bellevue’s bench was a key to the win as well, outscoring BC’s reserves 29-7. The Bruins also had advantages in points off turnovers (20-11), points in the paint (32-24) and rebounds (34-31). The Chargers had a slight edge in second chance points (12-11), while also having a 7-4 advantage in steals. Both teams had 16 turnovers.
Bryan Forbes led all scorers in the game with 25 points and Erdman was second in scoring with 24 points but Jordan Eisma was the only other Charger to reach double figures with 11 points. Jay Wolfe and Austin Lefler both added six points, followed by Shane Graves with two and Blake Wiltgen with one point. Forbes nearly had a double-double with a team-high eight rebounds and Graves dished out a team leading five assists.
Bellevue was led in scoring by Cardenas with 23 points off the bench, while Nick Hilton and Jaffery Stillman both poured in 13 points, BJ Shelton chipped in 12 and Hall had 11 points in the win.