Backboard dominance leads BU past WAU

Brandon Fagins pulled down 11 rebounds to lead a dominating BU effort on the glass
Brandon Fagins pulled down 11 rebounds to lead a dominating BU effort on the glass

RICHMOND, Ind. -- A dominating effort on the glass keyed the No. 4 Bellevue University men's basketball team to a 75-55 victory over (RV) Washington Adventist University in non-conference action at Lingle Court on Saturday afternoon to close out the First Bank Richmond Classic, hosted by IU-East.

The Bruins, led by Brandon Fagins' 11 rebounds, dominated the glass, out-rebounding Washington Adventist by a healthy 46-28 margin overall. Their 12-7 advantage on the offensive boards saw BU out-score the Shock 20-7 in second chance points.

With the victory, Bellevue ended a three-game losing streak and improved to 4-3 overall while the loss saw Washington Adventist's record slip to 2-2 in the season's early going.

Bellevue struggled from the field early in the first half as Washington Adventist took an 8-2 lead at the 13:22 mark but the Bruins slowly chipped away until tying the game at 14-14. A three-pointer from Elijah Kess put the Shock up 17-14 with 7:15 to play but that was the last time they would lead in the half.

Over the next 6:32 Bellevue went on a 20-2 run to seize command of the game, 34-19. It started with a Nick Hilton three-pointer at the 7:15 mark and was capped by a pair of Fagins free throws with 43 seconds to play. A Jimmy Smith free throw got WAU to within 14 but BJ Shelton scored at the halftime buzzer as BU took a 34-20 lead into the locker room.

Kess led all scorers with 10 points at the break. Hilton paced the Bruins with nine points followed by Shelton's eight and game-best five rebounds in the first half. The Bruins shot 35.7 percent from the floor in the opening period and out-rebounded the Shock – who shot just 27.3 percent in the half – 26-19 over the first 20 minutes.

Out of the break Bellevue scored five of the first seven points to grow their lead to 18 points, 41-23, just under two minutes into the period.

The Bruins saw their lead grow to 21 points three times in the second half and hovered between 16-21 points over the final eight minutes of play. The final sequence saw Drew Apsher drain a three-pointer off an assist from Fagins to go up 75-54 with just 13 seconds to play.

BU was led in the scoring column by Shelton's 15 points while Hilton added 11 and Jalen Hall scored nine. Shelton also played a key role in Bellevue's rebounding advantage pulling down seven boards.

As a team Bellevue shot 46.7 percent from the floor, their highest mark of the season, eclipsing their previous best of 40.4 percent against Friends University back on Oct. 28.

Kess and Charles Vines combined for 31 points with Kess dropping a game-high 18 and Vines chipping in 13 for Washington Adventist. Juwaun Watson scored four points and pulled down a team-high seven rebounds to go with his team-leading four assists.

The Bruins are now 2-2 against NAIA Division II teams that are either ranked or receiving votes and 3-3 against teams ranked or receiving votes in any NAIA division. Seven of BU's first eight games are against such teams to open the season with just one of those coming at home.

Bellevue returns to the hardwood when they travel to Chadron, Neb. on Saturday, Nov. 18 with a 4 p.m. exhibition contest at Chadron State College.