Belmont University men’s basketball fell to Pac-12 stalwart Arizona, 81-64, in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament Thursday night.
Despite some promising early looks, the Bruins went uncharacteristically cold to start, as the Wildcats raced out to a 14-4 lead.
Though senior Trevor Noack (Keller, Texas) would be limited in the first half due to foul trouble, Belmont hung around with trademark spirited play, headlined by three first half charges drawn by sophomore Reece Chamberlain (Goodlettsville, Tenn.).
With senior Ian Clark (Memphis, Tenn.) carrying the scoring torch, the Bruins got within 23-18 at the under four timeout of the first half. But Arizona closed the first half on a back-breaking 9-2 run to lead 32-20 at halftime.
Mark Lyons caught fire early in the second half, pushing Arizona’s lead to as many as 21. But Belmont battled back, behind Clark and senior Kerron Johnson (Huntsville, Ala.), willing the Bruins back within range. A scoring flurry got Belmont within 64-53 with five and a half minutes left, but the Wildcats used their size and unselfish ball movement to extinguish the final Belmont push.
All told, Belmont shot 54 percent from the field in the second half, paced by Johnson 22 points and Clark’s 21.
Belmont ends the 2012-13 season with a record of 26-7.