Belmont used an 11-0 run late in the game to hand Drake its first loss of the season, 74-69, in the opening round of the ESPN Events Invitational Thursday night.
The Bulldogs will face No. 10 ranked Alabama in the second round at 3:30 p.m CST Friday with the game televised on ESPNU.
Drake shot a season-low 40.6 percent from the floor (28-69) and also struggled at the free -throw line, hitting a season low 41.7 percent (5-12).
Senior forward Tremell Murphy matched a season high with 18 points— all in the second half — along with nine rebounds for Drake which fell to 3-1.
After a jumper by reserve swingman Garrett Sturtz gave the Bulldogs a 62-61 lead with 4:58 left, Drake would miss its next six shots during a stretch of 4:11.
Belmont responded with the 11-0 run, including seven points from Will Richard, to grab a 71-62 advantage it never relinquished.
A three-point basket by Murphy book the scoring drought pulling the Bulldogs within 72-67. A steal by Sturtz led to a layup by Shanquan Hemphill getting Drake within 72-69. Hemphill missed a free throw following the layup.
After Belmont missed two free throws, Drake had a chance to get closer but Murphy missed a layup with 12 seconds half. Forced to foul, Drake sent Belmont’s Ben Sheppard to the free throw line where he made two shots with six seconds left to account for the final margin.
The Bulldogs had a hard time containing Belmont’s 6-11 center Nick Muszynski, an All-Ohio Valley Conference performer, who scored a career-high 31 points, including 19 in the first half.
In the second half Murphy and Sturtz double-teamed Muszynski, which caused him to turn the ball over four times.
Freshman Tucker DeVries and senior guard Roman Penn added 12 points apiece for Drake. DeVries made a career-high four three-point baskets.
Penn tallied 10 points in the second half and collected five assists to move into the No. 4 spot on the Drake career assists list at 339.
Hemphill scored 11 points but made just three of eight shots from the free throw line.
Sturtz played a solid floor game, grabbing a career-high 11 rebounds along with three steals.
Drake finished the game with 10 steals and scored 22 points off Belmont turnovers.
The Bruins are set to join the Missouri Valley Conference starting in the 2022-2023 season and will join witb a 1-0 advantage over the Bulldogs.