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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Blue Devils Survive Belmont

The upstart Belmont Bruins had never won an NCAA tournament game coming into the 2008 tournament. Thursday they came within one point and 11.9 seconds of notching their first win, against storied Duke no less. Unfortunately for the Bruins their upset was taken from them by Duke’s Gerald Henderson and his huge game. Henderson scored 21 points and led the Blue Devils in rebounds, assists, and steals, including the go ahead score for Duke that put them on top for good.
“We’ll be remembered as the team that almost did it,” said Belmont senior Justin Hare. “It’s hard to go out that way. We beat Cincinnati and Alabama this year, and played a great Xavier team, but playing Duke tonight, the way we did, probably our best game of the year. We just tried to play our game tonight and stayed poised. We did that and gave ourselves a chance to win. But it hurts.”
While Belmont lost the game in the end they certainly dented the Blue Devil’s March mystic which has slipped since their last championship in 2001. Last year the sixth seeded Blue Devils bowed out in the first round against eleventh seed VCU. Last year Belmont was still a fifteen seed lost to second seed Georgetown in the first round. That Georgetown team went on to the final four.
“It’s tough to come that close and not win,” said Belmont Head Coach Rick Byrd. “I’m so proud of our team and our players; I wouldn’t feel any better or be any prouder of them if the score would have been in our favor. We played hard enough and well enough to win. Our players did Belmont University proud. The one-point loss is unfair in a way because it doesn’t measure the effort our kids put out – the mental toughness of it.”
The Bruins and their effort did receive praise from one of March Madness’ most recognizable characters.
“We played against a team that played an amazing game,” said Duke Head coach Mike Krzyzewski. “They’re a very good team. We were ready to play. You won’t hear any of our players say that we overlooked them. There’s no way. Watching them on tape, they looked very good. Watching them in person, they looked even better.”
Duke advances to the second round to play West Virginia and former Kansas State head coach Bob Huggins’ upstarts. Belmont will try and make it four NCAA tournaments in a row next year.

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