The Belmont women’s basketball team is on pace to take another run at the Ohio Valley Conference regular season championship, which would be its third in a row.
One of the biggest contributors to the Bruins’ success this season has been junior Ellie Harmeyer, who leads the team in points per game, 14.9, and rebounds per game, 8.4. This shows huge growth from last season, when she only averaged 6.9 points per game and 5.3 rebounds per game.
But Harmeyer’s dominance comes as no surprise to head coach Bart Brooks.
“We expected this kind of production from her,” Brooks said. “She was primed and ready to have a really big year.”
Harmeyer was named the OVC Player of the Week three times this season.
Seniors Darby Maggard and Jenny Roy are also having big seasons, stepping up as team leaders to fill the holes left by Sally McCabe and Kylee Smith.
Roy is averaging 9.6 points per game and 7.3 rebounds per game. She’s also leading the team in assists with 4.9 per game.
The senior was named OVC Player of the Week on Dec. 24, after her huge performances against Arkansas State and Chattanooga.
Maggard is also having a solid final season, averaging 14.0 points per game and shooting 36 percent from the 3-point line.
As the OVC Preseason Player of the Year, Maggard has generated a lot of hype and has been the main target for defenses. This has freed up players like Harmeyer and junior Maura Muensterman to play a larger role in the Bruins’ victories.
Muensterman is averaging 8.9 points per game and shooting 37 percent from behind the arch. The Evansville native has started in 15 of 16 games this season.
The Bruins had a successful non-conference season, earning a 7-4 record with wins against Lipscomb and Arkansas State. Though they lost to Clemson and the University of Tennessee, who was ranked No. 10 at the time, the team performed well in those games as well.
One of the biggest surprises in the Bruins’ 2018-2019 campaign was the heartbreaking 77-72 loss to Tennessee Tech on Jan. 5, snapping Belmont’s 47 straight conference win streak.
The team had the second longest conference win streak in the country before this defeat. The Bruins played poorly, only shooting 27.8 percent from the 3-point line and trailing for the majority of the game.
Brooks knows the loss hurt but still has confidence in the senior players to keep motivating the team.
“We have a group of competitive players and senior leaders who have been through a lot of basketball in their careers,” said Brooks. “The only way to fix it is to go back to work.”
After wins against Morehead State, Eastern Kentucky and Jacksonville State, Belmont’s record currently stands at 11-5 overall and 4-1 in conference play.
The Bruins came into the season as favorites to win the conference, but they will face some very tough opponents as they try to punch their fourth ticket to the NCAA Tournament.
UT Martin was picked to finish second in the conference in the OVC Preseason Poll. The Skyhawks currently have a record of 12-4 overall and 4-1 in conference. In 2018, Belmont defeated UT Martin at the conference tournament final in overtime.
The two OVC powerhouses will face each other on Feb. 2 and again on Feb. 28.
Tennessee Tech, the team that took Belmont down in its only conference loss of the season so far, is currently undefeated in conference play, a surprise since the Golden Eagles were picked to finish ninth in the OVC Preseason Poll.
The Bruins will face Tennessee Tech again on Feb. 16. This game could decide the regular season champion and will most likely be a must watch.
Coach Brooks is confident in his team, but he recognizes that their greatest enemy is often themselves.
“Our biggest roadblock is us,” said Brooks. “We’re working on that every day in practice, and we’re getting better.”