Driven by the emotion behind senior night and key plays by freshman players, the Belmont Bruins rallied from behind to defeat the East Tennessee State Lady Buccaneers 49-44 Saturday night at the Curb Event Center.
Senior Haley Nelson led Belmont in scoring with 15 points and 16 rebounds. While it was her 13th double-double of the season, Nelson said those numbers didn’t matter in light of the win.
“It was super exciting to win a game like that, not only because it’s senior night but our last home game,” Nelson said. “It’s just amazing to have this team we have.”
The win was a great combination of experience and youth, with major contributions by both senior and freshman players, head coach Brittney Ezell said.
“I think we have really good team chemistry. We have a really good team spirit. They just gutted it out and showed a lot of heart and determination,” she said. “This was the first time we swept ETSU in I don’t know how long, so they were super excited about that.”
After recognizing five seniors before the game, the Bruins started slowly in the first half. Baskets from freshman Adrienne Tarrence and junior Alyssa Visbeen within two points against the Lady Bucs, but a late ETSU run gave them an 26-15 halftime lead.
The Bruins made 7 baskets in the half, and only made one of nine three-point attempts.
“The first half had a lot to do with emotion, the seniors all starting, it was a little overwhelming with their families,” head coach Brittney Ezell said. “But we calmed down during the second half and were able to do some good things.”
The second half started similarly for the Bruins, but with baskets from Ernst and freshman Torie Vaughn with 10 minutes to go, the comeback began.
With six points from Nelson in the final seven minutes, and baskets from seniors and freshmen alike, the Bruins tied to game at 44 with 1:56 to go with a Vaught jumper.
After two turnovers and a missed Lady Buc three, freshman Katie Carroll made a go-ahead three-pointer with 16.4 seconds to go. Vaught hit 2 free throws to secure the victory.
Ezell gave credit to both the freshmen and senior classes in the comeback win.
“We recruited this freshman class to make an impact right away and I think they are doing that. I think our seniors have embraced them and relying on them heavily, and you don’t see that often. I was happy that they all stepped up,” Ezell said. “I know that the freshmen wanted to send the seniors out on a win, it was important to them. Our freshman class admires our senior class, look up to them, value them, and this senior class really embraced that responsibility.”
Forward Destiny Mitchell led the Lady Bucs in scoring with 15 points.
Belmont will finish up the regular season schedule on the road against Kennesaw State and Mercer.