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Bruins lose 64-61 nailbiter to Bears

For the second time in three days, the Belmont women’s basketball team had their game came down to their last possession.

After a Thursday night win though, the Bruins did not come through Saturday afternoon and lost to conference foe Mercer Bears 64-61 after a last-second Molly Ernst three-pointer sailed wide.

The Bruins went on a 13-8 run in the final six minutes of the game after falling behind the Bears by eight points late.

These types of games, said head coach Brittany Ezell, can could be common for the Bruins during the conference season.

“We’re gonna be in nip and tuck ballgames, so our kids are going to learn how to win down the stretch. They did a really good job the other night against Kennesaw. Tonight, unfortunately, our last second plays didn’t work,” she said.

For Ezell, the standout of the game was junior forward Alyssa Visbeen who shot three key three-pointers while leading the Bruins with a career-high 22 points.

“Alyssa Visbeen was fantastic. She was tremendous… She’s a fantastic shooter. She is so skilled to be [six-foot-two] on the block, on the perimeter. I was extremely proud of her efforts tonight,” Ezell said.

From the beginning, the game was back and forth and full of runs for both teams.

The Bears opened the game on a 5-0 run, but after a quick timeout where Ezell urged her players to “pick it up!”, the Bruins responded with a 6-0 run to take the lead.

It was a back and forth half for the Bruins and Bears after their respective runs, with nine lead changes and seven ties in the first 20 minutes. The Bruins led the Bears 29-28 at the half, though neither team could establish a lead of more than five points until the second half.

The Bruins jumped out to a 9-0 run to open the second half, including five points from Visbeen, including a key three-pointer.

The Bears subsequently went on a run fueled largely by Bruin turnovers and fouls. Eight of the Bruins’ 20 turnovers came during the first nine minutes of the second half, and the Bears were a 15-of-16 at the free throw line for the half. Mercer eventually took a 43-42 lead they never gave up halfway through the second half, and extended their lead to eight with more than six minutes remaining in the game. Mercer guard Precious Bridges led the Bears with 20 points, and scored six points on the Mercer run.

It was then when the Bruins started their comeback, even though Ezell said the comeback shouldn’t have been necessary.

“The fact of the matter is you shouldn’t be in the last second situation. If you hit your free throws, the ballgame is tied,” she said. “We tell them all the time, don’t focus on the last shot. It’s the layup you miss in the first half. It’s the free throw you miss in the second half. They all count equal.”

The Bruins, now 2-7 on the season, will next go on the road against Eastern Kentucky Tuesday night. Their next home game will be against Austin Peay on Dec. 18.

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