DENVER, Colo. -- Playing one of their best all-around games on the season the Bellevue University men's basketball team defeated Northern New Mexico College, 90-78, on Friday afternoon at the Johnson & Wales classic.
Bellevue rode their defense to a 12-point halftime lead. The Bruins forced the Eagles into 14 first half turnovers, leading to a 19-7 edge in points off turnovers in the opening 20 minutes. Bellevue capitalized with three players scoring at least eight points before the halftime break. Bellevue also took advantage of their opportunities at the free throw line, connecting on 15-of-20 attempts from the stripe.
Wes Burke (11), TeShon Burton (10), and Mike Cardenas (8) were BU's top scorers at the break as the Bruins took a 49-37 lead into the locker room. Adrian Infante paced the Eagles with nine points at the break.
Northern New Mexico got within three points in the second half on a layup by Patrick Bendegue with 8:59 to play but would get no closer. Cardenas converted an old-fashioned three-point play on the ensuing possession to start Bellevue on an 8-1 run over the next 54 seconds to establish a 10-point lead the Bruins would not relinquish.
Free throw shooting was paramount in this one, and played a large role in the final result. Bellevue reached the line 47 times and shot 78.7 percent from the stripe while Northern New Mexico was shot just 38.9 percent in 18 trips.
The Bruins were 7-for-8 inside the final minute from the free-throw line to seal the victory.
Bellevue was led by TeShon Burton's 17-point effort and had three other players scored in double figures on the afternoon. Carl Robinson (13 points) was a perfect 10-for-10 from the line, Burke (13), Marquis Aaron narrowly missed a double-double (12 points, 9 rebounds), and Cardenas added 11 for BU. Chris Ashanti chipped in nine while Chris Burton added seven.
The Bruins' 16 steals and 23 forced turnovers were both season-highs.
Quincy Gause led three Eagles in double figures with 19 points while Walid Ahmed added 17 and Bendegue chipped in 12.
The 8th-ranked Bruins (5-2) return to action tomorrow night with an 8 p.m. tipoff against host JWU to close out their stay at the Johnson & Wales Classic.