The Bruins forfeited a chance at revenge as they lost to Southeast Missouri University at the Curb Event Center on Tuesday night.
Belmont, 10-5 on the year and 7-3 in the Ohio Valley Conference, came into Tuesday’s game hoping to avenge the loss to SEMO in the OVC Tournament in March 2020. But that would not be the case as the Bruins lost 70-66 in a game that came down to a handful of possessions in the fourth quarter.
“I think we will learn a lot from this game,” said head coach Bart Brooks. “SEMO is a really talented and experienced team and I thought that showed down the stretch.”
The game opened with a three-pointer by SEMO’s junior guard Terri Smith. From there SEMO went on a quick 5-0 run before Belmont scored on a Jamilyn Kinney three-pointer.
Kinney’s three-pointer sparked a quick 9-2 run. And with four minutes left in the first quarter, the Bruins held a small 9-7 lead.
SEMO remained undaunted closing the quarter out with an offensive flurry that saw it lead the game 16-15 at the end of the first frame of action.
In the second quarter, junior forward Conley Chinn found her groove, scoring seven of her 12 points while shooting 3-5 from the field and 1-2 from three.
Belmont also dialed in its defense, forcing SEMO into seven turnovers, and holding the Redhawks to an abysmal 5-15 from the field. By halftime, Belmont possessed a convincing 36-26 lead.
Quarter three is where the game went sideways for the Bruins. Out of the half, SEMO’s offense found life. Smith hit a three to score the first points of the quarter. A turnover by Kinney led to another SEMO score as the Redhawks pulled within five, 36-31.
After trading baskets for a three-minute stretch, SEMO hit a big layup to pull the game within three, 41-38. And riding that moment, the Redhawks pulled to just within one point, trailing 49-48 at the end of quarter three.
In the fourth quarter, it was more of the same as Belmont struggled to contain SEMO’s potent inside attack. The Redhawks shot 8-17 from the field and were led by the play of senior Latrese Saine who scored eight points on 4-5 shooting in the game’s waning moments. She finished the game with 12 points and eight rebounds.
Freshman guard Destinee Wells led the way in both the scoring and assist departments for Belmont. She tallied a needed 19 points and nine assists for the Bruins. And she shot an efficient 7-16 from the field, and got to the free-throw line seven times, converting five of them.
The second-leading scorer for Belmont was the other freshman guard Tuti Jones. She totaled 13 points, shooting 5-11 from the field and 3-8 from behind the arc. Down the stretch, her offense proved instrumental as she was one of two players for Belmont to connect on multiple shots in the fourth quarter.
In the end, it was SEMO’s ability to adjust at the break which made the difference. The team came out with a new life and outscored the Bruins 44-30 after the midway point.
The Redhawks’ defense held Belmont to 37 percent from the field and 26 percent from three in the last two quarters, making it difficult for Belmont’s offense to generate points. The inability to generate points down the stretch ultimately purloined Belmont’s opportunity to enact revenge on its conference rival.
“We will keep our focus moving forward as we prepare to play again on Thursday,” said Brooks.
So, next up for Belmont is Eastern Kentucky University on Thursday at the Curb Event Center. Tip-off is slated for 4 p.m.
This article written by Ian Kayanja.