When guard Katie Brooks sank a jumper to give the Belmont Bruins a two-point lead with two seconds left in the game, the senior wanted to celebrate a little prematurely.
“At first I was super pumped, I wanted to give everyone chest bumps,” Brooks said. “But then I realized that we had two seconds left, so I knew we had to calm down and be ready to play defense.”
Her jumper was enough to put the Bruins over the top as the Belmont women’s basketball defeated the UT-Martin Skyhawks 58-56 at the Curb Event Center Saturday.
“Once we got the lead, we never gave it back. I was just thrilled for them, and the win shows a lot of heart and character on their part,” coach Brittney Ezell said. “Those are the fun games to coach.”
Sophomore transfer Jordyn Luffman led Belmont with 12 points as Brooks and junior Molly Ernst also scored double digits for the Bruins.
“(Jordan) has just been a joy to be around, and a great addition to our program,” coach Brittney Ezell said. “The kids feed off her energy and when you watch Jordan play, the fun part is you can tell she is enjoying it.”
The Skyhawks, the two-time defending conference champions, started the game quickly with a 8-2 run before the Bruins tied the game with a pair of layups from senior Alyssa Visbeen and a jumper from Brooks.
After several exchanged leads, UT-Martin extended their lead to 21-14 with less than three minutes remaining in the half. They went into halftime with a 27-19 lead and extended their lead to 10 points minutes into the second half.
From there, Luffman went on a hot streak, scoring nine straight points for the Bruins and and giving them a 50-49 lead with six minutes to go.
“We like to call her a microwave,” Ezell said. “She warms up pretty quick, and she gives us instant offense. She is so versatile and talented in a bunch of different ways. She just keeps basketball alive on the offensive end, to the glass and attacking the rim.”
The Skyhawks regained a quick lead afterwards, but senior Molly Ernst nailed a 3-pointer to give the Bruins 53-52 lead.
UT-Martin then tied the game with 21 seconds left before Brooks hit the game-winning jumper.
Brooks credited her team’s comeback win with a new level of drive the squad has this season compared to last year.
“Last year we had some tough games that we were down at the half by nine or ten, and it was hard to come back,” Brooks said. “But this year, we’re just ready to play. No matter how much we’re down at the half, we just got to get it together in the second half, and we know we’re going to win.”
Belmont will face the Murray State Racers on the road Monday before returning to Nashville next weekend for a pair of conference home games.
Photo by Andrew Hunt