Updated: Sep 20
The women’s basketball team cashed in a 77-46 win against Eastern Illinois University, stopping the Panthers in their tracks at Thursday’s doubleheader.
Returning to the Curb Event Center on a growing win streak, the Bruins notched their seventh straight victory, standing on top of the conference leaderboard with a 13-2 record in OVC play.
Thursday marked their second contest with the Panthers in 2022, and just like their New Year’s gift on Jan. 1, Belmont rose victorious again.
But it wasn’t without some initial tension.
EIU took off with an early lead, flashing by in its black away uniforms to build up a 6-12 difference six minutes into the matchup.
“They got some really athletic, good players … they’re not an easy team to play against,” Belmont head coach Bart Brooks said after the game.
Back on the court after a media timeout, freshman Tessa Miller got in the paint for a quick turnover 2-pointer.
Following a 3-point jumper from junior Nikki Baird, Miller caught a second-chance layup with 50 seconds left in the first quarter to bring the game to 13-all.
Counting down to single-digit seconds, sophomore Tuti Jones secured her team a 15-14 lead heading into the break.
EIU recovered well in the opening moments of the second quarter to bring the Panthers back in the lead, climbing to an 18-15 advantage.
But it didn’t take long for the Bruins to regain momentum, and from that point until halftime, it was a Destinee Wells hoop show.
The Belmont sophomore went on a 12-point scoring spree, producing off her teammates Conley Chinn and Blair Shoenwald’s offensive rebounds and putting the Bruins back on track to victory.
“I thought once we got it rolling we were moving pretty good, and then defensively, we made some plays and got them to turn it over a little bit. Maybe more than they’re used to,” Brooks said.
Despite the Bruins’ 10-point lead at halftime, 20 minutes of play still comes with inevitable threats.
The third quarter opened with back-and-forth play; missed shots and good defense from both teams slowed down the scoring.
The Bruins continued building their lead, though, with Jones ending the drought by stepping around the Panthers for a determined layup, bringing the score to 36-24.
Another paint-producer by sophomore Madison Bartley upset EIU to a timeout.
Belmont still collected the next basket, breaking 40 and eventually shaking its opponents off to a 20-plus difference with a Baird bucket behind the arc.
EIU showed stamina into the fourth but was unable to outstand Belmont’s effective offense.
For the home team, the remainder of the game brought a rain of free throws and 3-pointers, with Baird ending on a career-high 14 points to join the double-digit scoring club with Bartley and Wells.
In addition to Bartley’s 16 points, the forward also snagged seven rebounds, while guard Wells recorded 22 points and five assists.
The Bruins rang in the win 77-46, showing
“Great to put two halves together. Now we got to put a back-to-back game together,” Brooks said.
On to the next one, as Southern Illinois University Edwardsville comes to Nashville for a Saturday matchup in the Curb.
PHOTO: No. 11 Destinee Wells of Belmont women’s basketball defending the ball during the Thursday night game versus Eastern Illinois University. Jessica Mattsson / Belmont Vision
This article was written by Jessica Mattsson. Contributory reporting by Reyna Galvez and Landen Secrest.