Auburn outpaces women’s basketball in a close game on Belmont’s home court
After running low on time and points, Belmont women’s basketball fell to the Auburn Tigers 71-62 on Wednesday night.
Facing SEC powerhouse Auburn University at home in the Curb Event Center, the Bruins were in for a fight for the final game of the fall semester.
The team returned home for the Auburn game after a tough away loss Dec. 5 against No. 6 University of Louisville, and they filed into the Curb ready to try and rebound against the Power Five school from Alabama.
Belmont opened Wednesday’s game with a roar as sophomore Madison Bartley downed a 3-pointer in the first play of the game.
But climbing back one point at a time, the Tigers made three consecutive free throws to match Belmont’s early lead.
Back-and-forth scoring followed for the next 10 minutes, with Belmont freshman Tessa Miller producing eight layup points to end the quarter at 13-all.
Miller’s standout performance Wednesday earned her the first collegiate double-double of her career, racking up 12 points and 10 rebounds over the course of the game.
“Tessa is an unbelievably competitive kid and she carried us for a stretch there early in the first half where we were struggling offensively,” said Belmont head coach Bart Brooks.
The Bruins had a hard time keeping up with the speedy Tigers in the second quarter. The opponent scored 12 points compared to the Bruins’ two within a matter of 5 minutes.
Sophomore Blair Schoenwald came in with a clean 3-point jumper towards the end of the period, but Auburn outpaced the Bruins, laying out a halftime buzzer-beater to lead 31-24.
But halftime seemed to breathe new life into the Bruins’ game.
Sophomore Tuti Jones took the first two points of the third quarter before successfully making a steal, resulting in another layup by Bartley.
After a shot clock violation by Auburn and missed shots from both sides 25 minutes into the game, Miller’s layup attempt hit the rim and bounced back to Belmont possession so senior Conley Chinn could sink a 2-pointer.
At 42-34 in favor of the Tigers, Belmont senior Jamilyn Kinney drove the ball through the opponent’s defense and secured some valuable points for the home team.
With a razor-thin one-point difference in the fourth quarter, Belmont could taste the lead but lost momentum as the Tigers stepped up.
Following a missed jumper, Bartley battled to save the ball and bounced an assist to Chinn, who came in with speed for a productive layup.
With 3:15 remaining on the clock, Jones sank a 3-pointer as the small but mighty crowd echoed the “swoosh.”
Stacking up six of her 10 points of the evening in the fourth quarter, sophomore Destinee Wells’ efforts couldn’t catch the Tigers’ tail.
The loss to Auburn means that the Bruins will work on tightening their game for their next matchup.
“We just had lapses and focus and execution that we got to get cleaned up,” Brooks said. “I love our team. I think we could still be really good. We’re just not there yet.”
Belmont women’s basketball will recharge before a Sunday game in the Curb, this time against in-state rival Middle Tennessee State University.
PHOTO: Freshman forward Tessa Miller on the court with Conley Chinn, Tuti Jones and Blair Schoenwald during Wednesday’s Auburn game. Belmont Vision / Nikiah Perry.
This article was written by Jessica Mattsson.
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