Bearcats Fall In Home Opener To Upstart Belmont

Nov. 9, 2007

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CINCINNATI---The University of Cincinnati's home opener didn't end in a result that head coach Mick Cronin or the Bearcats' fans would have hoped. The contest, an 86-75 loss to two-time defending Atlantic Sun Conference Champion Belmont, made the wrong kind of history for UC as the Bearcats dropped their home opener for the first time in 42 years. The game was the second match of the day in the inaugural Peggy Cronin Classic.

The Bearcats did some things well, including holding a 41 to 33 edge on the glass and placing four players in double figure scoring. But UC has areas to clean up, including allowing Belmont to make 12 three-pointers and committing 19 turnovers.

Deonta Vaughn led the Bearcats with 19 points, but committed seven of UC's turnovers. Adam Hrycaniuk scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds in his regular season debut, while fellow inside banger John Williamson had a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds. True freshman Larry Davis scored 11 points in his first collegiate contest.

Cincinnati had trouble containing the starting guard duo of Justin Hare and Andy Wicke who combined for 42 points and 11 assists. Hare, a first-team all-conference choice last year, led all players with 23 points, while handing out seven assists. Wicke connected on 7-of-12 shots, including 4-of-8 from behind the arc, for 19 points. Alex Renfore chipped in 13 off the bench for Belmont.

Early baskets by Hrycaniuk and Williamson pushed the Bearcats out to a 4-0 lead, but the first half would be controlled mostly by Belmont. After rebounding to knot the score at 11, the Bruins used a 15-5 run to take a 10-point lead on the Bearcats. UC would bounce back, scoring 10 of the next 15 to cut the deficit in half at 31-26 with 6:52 to play before the half.

With halftime approaching, Cincinnati scored five straight to climb within a single point. Vaughn single-handedly put UC back in front with five points in a span of six seconds. After Marcus Sikes grabbed a Marvin Gentry missed free throw, Vaughn connected on a 3-point basket, then stole the inbounds pass and dropped in a lay-up to push the Bearcats into the locker room with a 43-39 lead.

Vaughn kept it going early in the second half, assisting on a Gentry three and scoring on a lay-up of his own to give the Bearcats a six-point lead, their largest of the night. But Belmont had an answer as the Bruins scored 15 of the next 17, three from behind the arc to reassume a seven-point cushion just four and a half minutes into the half.

For the remainder of the half, the Bearcats couldn't get it going, falling behind by 13 with 10 minutes to play as Belmont continued to bury 3-pointers. Will Peoples' lone long ball of the night made it 73-60, but buckets by both of the Bearcats' big guys and a Vaughn three cut the Belmont lead back to six.

The six points would be as close as the Bearcats would get as a 9-2 Belmont spurt covering just over five minutes pushed the Bruin advantage back into double figures. UC briefly got back into single digits when Hrycaniuk drilled a three with 2:57 left.

The Bearcats have little time to think about the loss as the tournament continues on Saturday with UC taking on Western Carolina. Tip time in Fifth Third Arena is 7 p.m.