DENVER – University of Denver junior guard and defending Summit League Player of the Week Brett Olson (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) recorded 19 points and seven assists, leading the Pioneers to a 90-62 rout over Belmont at Magness Arena on Tuesday night.
Senior Chris Udofia (Irving, Texas) scored a game-high 21 points, pulled down six rebounds and made four steals. Sophomore guard Jalen Love (Wichita, Kan.) and redshirt sophomore forward Marcus Byrd (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) scored 13 and 11 points, respectively, for the Pioneers (5-5). The Bruins (8-4) have now dropped three of their last four games.
“We’ve been playing really well over the last six games. We’re 5-1 in our last six and a whisker of a rebound away from 6-0,” head coach Joe Scott said. “If you just look at the improvement of our team over the last month, it’s really unbelievable. It’s just a credit to all our guys, a credit to the team. It’s a credit to the leadership of Chris [Udofia] and Brett [Olson] and Cam [Griffin], and guys have just stayed with it. We knew we have a chance to become a pretty good team. It was just a matter of putting the pieces in and finding the right rotation.”
The Pioneers hit 55.6 percent (30-of-56) from the field and a season-best 52.2 percent (12-of-23) from three-point range, while holding Belmont to 42.0 percent (21-of-50) from the floor and 21.1 percent (4-of-19) from beyond the arc.
Olson made three of Denver’s 11 steals, which led to 37 points off 20 Belmont turnovers, and DU out-rebounded the Bruins 32-30.
The Bruins (8-4) cut DU’s lead to 10 early in the second half, but the Pioneers went on a 16-0 run that stretched to 23-2, as the Pioneers put the game out of reach, leading by as many as 31 points halfway through the second half.
With his team trailing by two, Udofia scored on back-to-back dunks and converted the three-point play to give DU a 14-11 lead with 12:26 remaining in the first half. The Pioneers went on an 8-0 run to push the lead to 10 points with 7:40 remaining, and extended it to 45-30 at the break.
Denver used six steals to outscore Belmont 23-8 off turnovers in the first half, and the Pioneers shot 55.6 percent (15-of-27) from the floor and 50.0 percent (7-of-14) from three-point range, while the Bruins made 55.0 percent (11-of-20) from the field and 28.6 percent (2-of-7) from beyond the arc.
Craig Bradshaw had 18 points to lead Belmont, and Evan Bradds added 11 points.
The Pioneers remain home for a meeting with UC Irvine at Magness Arena on Saturday at 2 p.m. MT.
· Tuesday’s game marked the first time a Joe Scott-coached team scored 90 points in a game. Scott is now 16-0 when his team scores at least 80 points, which also includes an 80-70 win at Colorado State last Wednesday.
· Brett Olson tied a career high with seven assists.
· Denver went 15-for-27 from the floor in each of the halves to finish the game at 55.6 percent, the best mark of the season.
· Belmont, which beat No. 11 North Carolina in Chapel Hill a month ago today, has won 20 or more games eight of the last 10 years and made the NCAA Tournament six times since 2006, including the last three seasons.
· Senior Charles Webb (Erie, Colo.) made his first appearance of the season, scoring the 90th point on a free throw, and freshman Josiah Dunn (Littleton, Colo.) donned the Denver uniform for the first time in his career.
· Sophomore Nate Engesser (Colorado Springs, Colo.) set a career high with five assists and added nine points.
· Marcus Byrd went 3-for-5 from three-point range against Belmont, increasing his season total to a Summit League-best 50.0 percent (20-for-40). Byrd, who hit nine three-pointers all of last year, has gone 17-for-28 (60.7 percent) in his last four games.
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