BELLEVUE, Neb. -- The No. 22-ranked Bellevue University men's basketball team battled back from a 15-point deficit to pull within one in the second half but the Bruins dropped an 81-76 decision to (RV) Briar Cliff University on Friday evening at the Gordon Lozier Athletic Center.
#22 Bellevue: 2-1
(RV) Briar Cliff: 2-0
Recap: Briar Cliff 81, Bellevue 76
The game went back and forth early on with Bellevue snagging an 8-6 advantage on a jumper by Lewis Hayes at the 16:40 mark of the first half but Briar Cliff responded by posting a 15-3 run over a span of 4:21 to take a 10-point lead.
The Chargers pushed their lead to as many as 15 points on a three from Conner Groves with 10:28 to play in the opening period.
BU hung around, cutting the deficit to five points on a tip-in by Jaylen Wiltz with 1:27 to play in the half and Briar Cliff took a 44-39 advantage into the locker room.
Briar Cliff quickly reestablished a double-digit lead out of the break with Jaden Kleinhesselink scoring a layup to cap off a 7-2 run to put the Chargers ahead 52-41 with 18:05 to go.
Bellevue responded by scoring 10 of the next 12 points to cut the Charger lead to just one possession on a layup by Jaron Dickson.
The BCU lead generally within two possessions until Jemeil King converted three free throws with 6:53 to play that brought Bellevue to within a point at 64-63.
The Bruins twice cut the lead to two points but could get no closer the rest of the way.
After a jumper by Hayes brought the score to 77-74, Bellevue got a defensive stop but King missed a pair of three-point tried in the final 30 seconds as Briar Cliff did enough, making their final four free throws, to escape with the win.
King scored a team-best 16 points and dished out five assists for Bellevue while Isaiah Bates and Hayes joined King in double figures with 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Wiltz added nine points and five rebounds while Niamey Harris scored eight, grabbed six boards, and pocketed five steals.
Jackson Lamb led five Chargers in double figures with 20 points and eight rebounds. Bellevue limited Lamb's effectiveness as he shots 7-of-19 from the floor and made just one three-pointer after draining 10 treys in a 49-point outburst earlier in the week against Graceland.
Groves accounted for all 19 Briar Cliff bench points. Andy Geelan and Kleinhesselink scored 12 apiece, Ethan Freidel scored 10, and Austin Roetman chipped in eight points on the night.
Bellevue dominated the glass, piling up a 44-33 rebounding advantage, led by Dickson's eight boards.
Bellevue wraps up play in the BU/NCC Classic tomorrow afternoon with a 3 p.m. tip-off against Haskell Indian Nations University. The Indians fell to Nebraska Christian by a score of 77-72 in Friday's final game.