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Belmont cruises past Jax State

On senior day, the Belmont women’s basketball team thrashed conference foe Jacksonville State 69-49 while recognizing seniors Julianne Downs, Katie Brooks, Jordan Coleman and Alyssa Visbeen Saturday at the Curb Event Center.

Coach Brittney Ezell said this class was characterized by their selflessness, heart and talent.

“They are better people than they are players, and they’re pretty good players,” she said.

With the win, the Bruins will take a first round bye and a No. 3 seed into the Ohio Valley Conference tournament at Municipal Auditorium next week.

“Regardless we’re going to get a first round bye in our first year, and that’s exciting,” Ezell said.

The Bruins jumped to a quick 6-0 lead after Brooks sunk two free throws, combined with a Katie Carroll jumper and a Coleman steal and lay-in within the first two minutes of the game. That was the closest the Gamecocks ever came to the lead in the entire game.

Belmont advanced a 17-6 lead by the 12-minute mark thanks to threes from Molly Ernst, Alyssa Visbeen and Jordyn Luffman.

The Bruins scored six threes by the 6:49 mark from behind the three-point line, compared to a lackluster 8 percent shooting half from the Gamecocks.

“We told the kids coming into the game tonight that we just wanted to prepare in terms of ‘What are we doing well?’ What are we doing poorly? What do we need to do to get ready for next week,’” Ezell said.

As the Bruins entered halftime with a dominant 45-24 lead, Luffman contributed on both sides of the ball with eight points and four rebounds. Coleman notched five rebounds in the half as well.

“We’re the No. 1 defensive team in the league and rank in the top 50 in the country, so we take a lot of pride in that and I think our assistant coaches do a tremendous job with that,” Ezell said.

Both teams were slower to start in the second half, as Jacksonville State center Miranda Cantrell was the first to score with a basket near the 18-minute mark. Coleman and Carroll followed with buckets of their own.

The Bruins led 60-40 with seven and a half minutes remaining as Torie Vaught, Blair Bryce and Ernst were able to score for the Bruins while Luffman and Adrienne Tarrence were able to pick up two steals to add to Belmont’s 10 total. Two two field goals from Cantrell were seemingly the only answer Jacksonville State had to a speedy Belmont team.

Ernst led all Belmont scorers with 13 points, followed Luffman with 12. The leading scorer was Jacksonville State Danielle Vaughn with 16.

The Bruins’ first matchup in next week’s conference tournament will be Thursday at 2 p.m. at Municipal Auditorium against the winner of Wednesday’s Tennessee State/SIUE game.

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