COLUMBIA, Mo. — Tony Burks scored 30 of his game-high 41 points in the second half for Columbia College who closed the game on a 25-15 run handing the Bellevue University men’s basketball team a 71-61 loss on Friday evening in the first game of the Hampton Inn Thanksgiving Classic.
With the loss Bellevue slips to 5-4 while Columbia improves to 6-3.
Bellevue and Columbia traded blows early before the Bruins took a 7-6 lead on a free throw from Keenami Maggard that saw them go ahead for the remainder of the half.
After a pair of free throws by Tony Burks cut the lead to 17-14, Bellevue rattled off seven-straight points to take a 24-14 lead, their largest of the half. Justin Motley started the run, taking a pass over the fronting defense and laying it up and in.
Columbia trimmed the Bruin lead to six points on several occasions, with opportunities to pull closer but Bellevue, making the Cougars work for every shot, kept CC at arm’s length.
Martis Johnson snapped a 5 minute and 25 second stretch without a field goal for the Bruins, hitting the game’s first three-pointer with 1:06 to play as Bellevue took a 30-21 lead.
Burks answered with a three before Raydden Grobe and Burks traded baskets right before the intermission and BU took a 32-26 lead into the locker room.
The Bruin defense frustrated Columbia as the Cougars struggled to get open looks and shot just 36% in the first half, including going just 1-for-7 from deep. Offensively, Bellevue overcame nine first half turnovers by shooting 55% from the floor and 69% at the free throw line.
Belcaster and Motley scored seven apiece for Bellevue in the first half with Keenami Maggard chipping in six off the bench. Burks led all scorers with 11 for Columbia.
After Christian Carter sank a corner three to open the second half, Columbia ran off a 6-0 run to pull within a single possession, 35-32 but Paulo Araujo countered with his first trifecta of the game for Bellevue.
With Bellevue mired in a scoring drought, Columbia tied the game as Dogukan Kara hit Burks on a backdoor cut for a layup and Burks gave the Cougars their first lead of the game on the ensuing possession with another layup, 42-40, with 11:45 to play.
BU regained the lead as Araujo delivered a Euro Step layup in transition at the 9:02 mark capping off a 6-2 run.
Columbia responded with an 8-0 run to take their largest lead of the game, 52-46, on a jumper from Collin Parker with 7:24 to play. That gave them the lead for good with Burks then going on to score nine-straight points including step back corner three with 3:19 left stretching the Cougars lead to 62-54.
Belcaster and Araujo totaled 14 apiece to lead Bellevue with Araujo grabbing a team-high eight rebounds. Motley and Maggard scored nine each.
Parker joined Burks in double figures for Columbia with 17 points as the duo combined for 58 points on 18-of-30 shooting.
Bellevue closes out play at the Hampton Inn Thanksgiving Classic tomorrow afternoon with a 1 p.m. tip against Hannibal-LaGrange University (4-2).