The fourth quarter wasn’t pretty for Belmont, but it got the job done.
With two minutes left in the game and Belmont trailing by one, 50-49, the Bruins went to freshman guard Destinee Wells on a mid-range jump shot to take the lead. The shot was never in doubt.
Belmont forced Jacksonville State University into a turnover on the ensuing possession, and junior guard Jamilyn Kinney hit a deep three to give Belmont a 54-50 lead with 59 seconds left in the game. JSU answered with a three of its own. And following a Belmont miss, the Gamecocks held the ball with a chance to win and four seconds on the clock.
Belmont’s defense held, forcing a missed jumper as the buzzer sounded.
Belmont won 54-53.
“Destinee and Jamilyn both made huge shots down the stretch, and that’s what we expected from those two,” head coach Bart Brooks said after the game. “Often close games are won by players making big plays and those two stepped up tonight and delivered.”
After Thursday afternoon’s defensive affair in the Curb Event Center, Belmont improves to 13-5, 10-3 in the Ohio Valley Conference, and extends the win streak to three games. As the Bruins are finding their groove at the right time of the season.
Heading into Thursday’s game, both Jacksonville State and Belmont sat one and two in the OVC in points allowed per game at 57.8 and 58.5 respectively.
Jacksonville State forced the Belmont offense into its lowest-scoring game since the first game of the season on Nov. 29 against the University of Kentucky.
The Gamecocks made it a point to make things difficult on Wells all afternoon. A defender shadowed her everywhere she went on the floor, limiting offensive opportunities and making it difficult for her to catch the ball. In the end, she produced her lowest scoring output in weeks, scoring 15 points on 3-9 from the field and 2-3 from three.
No other Belmont player scored in double-figures in the game, and Jacksonville State held the Bruins to an inefficient 35 percent from the field.
In the fourth quarter, Jacksonville State dialed up its already elite defense, limiting Belmont to 25 percent from the field 20 percent from three. Regardless of the Gamecocks’ defense down the stretch, though, it was Belmont who made more plays to win the game.
It wasn’t pretty, but it was enough.
“We knew they were going to try to get to the rim on that last possession, and Wells did a great job of contesting the drive and Allison Luly provided support to contest the shot to make it a difficult look.”
Jacksonville State’s leading scorer on the game was junior guard Yamia Johnson, who scored 15 points while shooting 6-10 from the field and 3-5 from three.
Belmont’s defense forced the Gamecocks into 18 turnovers and held them to 6-20 from three. 12 of JSU’s turnovers came by way of Belmont steals. Freshman Tuti Jones and junior Conley Chin led the Bruins in the steal department with three each.
Belmont hopes to extend its win streak to four against Tennessee Tech University on Saturday. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m. at the Curb Event Center.
This article written by Ian Kayanja.