Updated: Sep 20
The stakes were high for both Belmont basketball teams as the men and women faced off against heated Ohio Valley Conference rival Murray State University away at the CFSB Center on Thursday night.
The women rose to the challenge, winning 85-79 to become the OVC regular-season champions while the men fell hard 76-43, ending their double-digit win streak.
Women continue to shine on the court, clinching OVC crown
The women’s winning streak extended to nine after a hard-fought win against a talented Racers squad.
Sophomore guard Destinee Wells led the path to victory for the Bruins with her 27 points and three assists in 27 minutes of play.
She shared the love around the court, however, with four other Bruins each scoring in double digits.
Freshman forward Tessa Miller came off the bench to lead the team in blocks with five, providing a spark for the Belmont defense. Miller also recorded three assists in her 18 minutes.
Sophomore guard Tuti Jones played a great game as well, scoring 12 points with six rebounds and three steals.
Overall, the Bruins shot for an efficient 50.7% from the floor and 41.7% from 3-point distance.
Executing on turnovers was key for the squad, with Belmont outscoring Murray State 15-0 this way alone.
The Bruins recorded a season-low two turnovers and forced 10.
Coming out of halftime with the Bruins leading 45-35, senior guard Jamilyn Kinney brought the fire as she downed a layup before hitting two straight threes. Kinney led the team in 3-pointers Thursday, splashing in four of her team’s 10.
Freshman guard Kilyn McGuff, also a proficient distance shooter, connected with two shots from behind the arc in the second quarter.
While Belmont never trailed in the game, the fourth quarter came down to the wire as the Racers began to creep up on the Bruins, forcing a six-point game with 1:11 remaining.
After several made free throws from Madison Bartley and one from Wells, the Bruins were able to hold on to victory.
With the win, Belmont clinched the OVC regular-season title and will look to continue its winning streak against Tennessee State University for Saturday’s homecoming contest in the Curb Event Center.
Men face setback with loss to No. 1 Racers
The men’s 10-game winning streak came to an end Thursday after falling short to No. 19 ranked Murray State University on the road.
In the final regular-season matchup before both teams join the Missouri Valley Conference, the Bruins were unable to establish any rhythm on the offensive end, shooting just 32% from the field and 5-26 from the 3-point range.
The contest ended with a lopsided score in favor of the Racers, the top team in the OVC, who now sit on a record of 27-2 for the season.
Belmont was unable to contain Murray State forward KJ Williams, who brought in 30 points for the Racers.
Guard Will Richard was the only Bruin to hit double digits, leading the team with 10 points and adding seven rebounds in his 31 minutes.
Meanwhile, Luke Smith, Nick Muszynski and Grayson Murphy all added eight points in a slow-scoring night for Belmont.
After gaining the lead with Murphy’s opening basket, the Bruins found themselves trailing for the remainder of the match.
Belmont was able to get within three points of the Racers just over midway through the first half, but the Murray State lead continued to grow to 18 entering halftime.
But the Bruins’ early comeback attempts in the second half were quickly shut down by defensive stops from Murray State and Racers baskets by Williams, Justice Hill and Carter Collins.
As the game progressed, the Bruins could not find any answers on their side, and the Racers kept piling it on, furthering their lead to 34 points with under four minutes to go.
Following the tough away loss, Belmont will look to bounce back in the Curb on Saturday when it hosts for senior night and homecoming.
PHOTO: No, 20 Conley Chinn goes up for a shot at a home game against Murray State, Jan. 16, 2022. Landen Secrest / Belmont Vision
This story was written by Landen Secrest and A.J. Wuest