MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Belmont women's basketball took down the Middle Tennessee Lady Raiders on the road, 70-64, to log its first win of the 2020-21 season Sunday night at the Murphy Center.
Senior forward Madison Treece fueled the Bruins (1-1) with a career-best 18 points, as freshman guard Destinee Wells tabbed 13 points, three rebounds and a pair of assists. Fellow freshman Tuti Jones added eight points, eight rebounds and four steals from the bench in her debut for Belmont.
The Bruins shot 44 percent from the field and 43 percent from deep range on the night, as they dominated Middle Tennessee on the glass by a 49-33 margin. In total, Belmont pieced together 26 points from the bench, 16 assists and 36 points in the paint.
The Lady Raiders (0-1), who earned votes in the latest Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Top 25 Coaches Poll, were led by junior guard Anastasia Hayes with 25 points. Junior guard Alexis Whittington was the only other player in double-figure points (12) for Middle Tennessee.
Treece opened up the first quarter with four quick points for the Bruins, who held a 7-3 advantage early after a 3-pointer from junior guard Jamilyn Kinney at the 8:05 mark. The Lady Raiders closed the gap with a small run, but freshman forward Madison Bartley's first career 3-pointer pushed the Belmont lead to 12-9 halfway through the period. However, an eight-point swing from Middle Tennessee gifted them a 23-17 lead with 48 seconds remaining the in the quarter. A deep range make from Jones closed the gap for the Bruins, but the Lady Raiders still went into the second period with a 25-20 advantage.
Sophomore forward Conley Chinn drained an early 3-pointer to kick off the second quarter, as an impressive run from Belmont was around the corner. A layup from Treece at the 6:33 mark sparked a 10-0 run for the Bruins, who went up 33-32 with over four minutes left in the period. A 3-pointer from Wells boosted the Belmont lead again, as layups from Treece and Kinney gave the Bruins a 42-35 halftime advantage. Overall, Belmont outscored the Lady Raiders 22-10 in the quarter.
At the half, Treece led the Bruins with 12 points, while Wells and Kinney combined for 13 points in the first 20 minutes. Belmont logged a field goal percentage of nearly 50 percent in the opening half, as six 3-pointers gave it the edge early on.
A pair of layups from sophomore guard Nikki Baird and Chinn helped the Bruins jump out to 46-37 advantage through the first two minutes of the second half. Middle Tennessee cut the deficit to six points with a 3-pointer at the 6:21 mark, but Belmont kept the Lady Raiders at arm's length. Wells recorded five points in 30 seconds late in the third quarter, as a jumper from junior guard Maddie Cook gave the Bruins a 57-45 lead after three periods.
Middle Tennessee challenged Belmont early in the final quarter, as it slashed the Bruin lead to just seven points with six minutes remaining in the contest. However, just seconds later, a 3-point make from freshman guard Whitney Hay extended the Belmont advantage to double-digits. The Bruins let the Lady Raiders within three points in the last two minutes, but a deep range three with one minute left from Wells iced the game for Belmont, 70-64.
Overall, the Bruins received five-plus points from seven of their 10 players who touched the hardwood Sunday night. Kinney dished out a team-high six assists, as Cook led Belmont with a career-best nine rebounds. Additionally, the freshman duo of Hay and Bartley meshed for 10 points and seven boards. The Bruins led Middle Tennessee for 27 minutes of the contest.
THREE IN A ROW: Belmont extended its win streak over the Lady Raiders to three with its road victory on Sunday. The Bruins and head coach Bart Brooks are undefeated against Middle Tennessee since the renewal of the rivalry in the 2018-19 season.
HOT HANDS: With a 44 percent clip from the field and a 43 percent performance from 3-point range Sunday, Belmont recorded its highest shooting percentage in both categories since the OVC Tournament semifinal on March 6. Both marks in the semifinal were season highs for the Bruins last year.
FANTASTIC FRESHMEN: Belmont received 31 points from its freshman class Sunday night, as Destinee Wells led all newcomers with 13 points in just 19 minutes. Wells also recorded a team-best plus-minus (plus-15).
BENCH DEPTH: The Bruins recorded 26 bench points against the Lady Raiders, which marks the fourth time in the last five outings that they have received 20-plus bench points (including last season).
DOMINANCE ON THE GLASS: Belmont tallied 49 rebounds and a plus-16 rebound margin against Middle Tennessee, as every player for the Bruins grabbed at least one board. Overall, six different Belmont players grabbed five or more rebounds.
UP NEXT: The Bruins return to action Tuesday night, as they travel to the Yellowhammer State to take on the Auburn Tigers. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. at Auburn Arena.