Women's Basketball Edged by Tennessee Tech, 61-56
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tripped up by fouls midway through the second stanza, the Belmont women's basketball team (1-3) was edged in the final 90 seconds of regulation, falling to visiting Tennessee Tech (3-0), 61-56, on Sunday afternoon at the Curb Event Center. The Bruins slip to 1-3 with the loss.
After a slow start that found them down by as many as nine, 11-2, the Bruins were sparked by the return of junior Haley Nelson (Scottsboro, Ala.). Her work inside the paint closed the gap to one, 14-13, by the 11:38 mark. BU remained hot on the Golden Eagles' heels over the next three minutes, consistently keeping it a two basket difference and using strong defense to halt any offensive surges they used to try to pull ahead. By the eight minute mark, another jumper in the paint by Nelson and a one-handed lay-in by senior Rachel Swisher (Franklin, Ky.) made it a two-point game, 24-22.
The teams continued trading baskets but the score would remain tight down the stretch. A jumper from junior Cacy Burtnett (Cleveland, Tenn.) moved Belmont to within one and it was another bucket from Nelson that knotted the score at 27 with 2:15 remaining before the break. The Bruins gained their first lead of the game, 29-27, with senior Tereva Moore's (Memphis, Tenn.) successful trip to the charity stripe barely one minute later. Tacarra Hayes hit a pair at the line to lock the score at 29 but the combination of two free throws from junior Crystal Kesler (Knoxville, Tenn.) and a defensive effort that denied shot opportunities helped Belmont regain the lead, 31-29, as the teams headed into the locker rooms.
After the break, TTU briefly tied the score at 31 before the Bruins regained the lead behind back-to-back buckets from Moore put BU on top, 37-34, four minutes into the half. The Golden Eagles inched to within one, 37-36, forty-five seconds later but a put back tip-in by senior Whitney Seals (Raceland, Ky.) on the next possession kept the margin at three points. Tennessee Tech would force two ties over the next two and a half minutes but a trey from the top of the arc by sophomore Alyssa Visbeen (Brentwood, Tenn.) forced the Golden Eagle bench to burn a timeout as the Bruins took a 44-41 lead with 10:53 left on the clock.
By the 8:46 mark, the teams were locked in their fourth scoring stalemate of the half, this time at 46 after Tiara Hopper completed a three-point play. A drive up the middle and a lay-up by sophomore Kristin Nash (Stone Mountain, Ga.) put BU back on top. The Golden Eagles used three consecutive trips to the free-throw line to pull ahead for the first time in the half, 51-48. However, the Bruins were able to knot the score at 52 with just under five minutes left on the clock with the help of jumpers by Nelson and Burtnett. Tennessee Tech was able to take the lead again with a surge but BU continued to press over the next three minutes. By the final 90 seconds, the score locked again, this time at 56.
Kellie Cook attempted to put TTU on top with a shot outside the arc but Burtnett's quick hands blocked the shot and the Golden Eagles were eventually turned the ball over on the possession with. Cook was able to redeem her mistake with back-to-back trips to the free-throw line after Bruins found themselves in foul trouble midway through the stanza. She hit all four, giving Tennessee Tech a four-point, 60-56, advantage with 25.3 ticks remaining. The Bruins were unable to convert at the stripe on the next possession and Cook was fouled again, hitting one of two with 14 seconds left. Belmont was unable to convert on a pair of shots just before the buzzer and fell, 61-56.
TTU shot 34 percent from the floor, 33.3 percent from three-point range and 77.4 percent from the free-throw line. The Golden Eagles held the advantage in rebounds, 43-31, blocks, 4-3, and steals, 4-3.
Tennessee Tech was led in scoring by Briana Jordan's 18 points. Hayes and Brittany Darling also reached double digits, adding 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Belmont shot 37.1 percent from the floor, 23.1 percent from behind the three-point arc and 77.8 percent from the charity stripe.
Nelson led the Bruins with a game-high 18 points and was one rebound short of her first double-double of the season with a team-high nine boards. Burtnett contributed nine points in the effort.
Belmont returns to the road on Saturday, November 27. The Bruins travel south to face off against Central Arkansas beginning at 2 p.m. The contest can be heard live via the internet on the Bruins Sports Network.