Green Bay's Great Season Ends with NIT Loss to Belmont
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – On Tuesday night, Green Bay (24-7) played for the first time in three seasons without starting point guard Keifer Sykes (Chicago, Ill.). The Horizon League Player of the Year missed a game for the first time in his career due to injury, and a resilient Phoenix team fell 80-65 to visiting Belmont (25-9) in the opening round of the National Invitation Tournament at the Resch Center.
Junior Greg Mays (Chicago, Ill.) scored a team-high 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting and freshman Kenneth Lowe (Little Chute, Wis.) came off the bench to add a career-high 12 on 5-of-7 from the field, but Green Bay could not overcome a season-high 21 turnovers against a Bruins squad that won the Ohio Valley Conference regular season title.
Belmont led 12-11 after a quick start for both teams before the Bruins scored 16 of the next 19 points to lead 28-14 with 9:47 to play. The visitors’ lead would reach 15 points before the Phoenix responded with a 13-2 spurt to close to 37-33. Sophomore Jordan Fouse (Racine, Wis.) capped the run with a steal and a dunk. He had two steals to break Green Bay’s single-season record.
The Bruins responded by closing the first half with a 12-4 lead to take a 49-37 halftime lead. Belmont, one of the nation’s top offensive teams, shot 54.3 percent from the field (19-35) in the opening 20 minutes while forcing 14 turnovers.
The lead for Belmont reached 19 points early in the second half, and despite another Phoenix response still led by 13 (69-56) with 4:04 to play. Senior Alec Brown (Winona, Minn.) scored the next six points to start a 9-3 spurt which cut the deficit to seven with 1:26 remaining.
In his final game of his career, Brown finished with nine points and six rebounds and also swatted a shot to tie the Horizon League career record for blocked shots. He finished his career with 1678 points, 800 rebounds and 308 blocked shots.
Belmont knocked down a three-pointer on the next possession to increase the lead to 10 points. The Bruins did not reach their season averages in points, field goal percentage or three-point field goal percentage, but ultimately pulled out the win due to 23 points off turnovers.
Under fourth-year head coach Brian Wardle, Green Bay won the Horizon League regular season title for the first time in 18 seasons and finished with the most wins by a Phoenix team since 1995-96.
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