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OVC Tournament: Belmont women defeat Austin Peay, advance to championship

Updated: Jun 27, 2022

Belmont’s No. 1-seeded women’s basketball team beat Austin Peay State University in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament semifinals Friday.

Traveling to Evansville, Indiana, to begin their final run in the OVC Tournament, the Bruins knocked down the Governors 63-51 to secure a spot in Saturday’s final — the team’s sixth trip to that championship matchup in seven years.

Sophomores Madison Bartley and Destinee Wells led the charge for the Bruins, scoring 20 points each and putting up shots right off the bat to start Belmont’s tournament play out strong.

We always talk about being together as a team,” Bartley said. “We wouldn’t have got the shots without everybody on that team.”

With two minutes left in the first quarter, the Bruins were up by 10, but Austin Peay went on a 7-2 run to close the gap.

It seemed like time the Bruins scored, Austin Peay responded just as swiftly.

The Governors found their stride in the second quarter behind 3-point baskets from Karle Pace and Shay-Lee Kirby.

At halftime, Belmont headed into the locker room leading 33-29.

“We made a couple of adjustments, but credit to the players, they came out and really did their job,” Belmont head coach Bart Brooks said after the game. “They’ve got some really talented offensive players into play like we did in the third quarter and can get a little bit of separation, that was huge.”

No. 3 Madison Bartley goes up for a shot in the semifinal game of the 2022 OVC Tournament in Evansville, Indiana, against Austin Peay State University, March 4, 2022. Belmont Vision / Landen Secrest

Feeding off Bartley’s dominance and the Bruins’ defense, Belmont outscored the Governors 15-6 in the third.

In the fourth, Tuti Jones, Tessa Miller and Jamilyn Kinney all made baskets that added to the Belmont lead.

But the Governors weren’t ready to quit just yet, as Pace downed a shot to tighten the Belmont lead to five with 2:44 remaining in the game.

And as the Governors were knocking on the Bruin’s door, Belmont turned to its distance prodigy — sophomore Tuti Jones.

Jones sank a three to put Belmont back with a comfortable 57-49 lead with 2:25 remaining.

From there, Austin Peay had a few chances to make a comeback, but Belmont solidified the win with two back-to-back free throws from Wells and Kinney.

The Bruins now turn their focus to the finals, where they will face off against Tennessee Tech University at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Fans at home can tune in on ESPN+.

“It’s gonna be a great game. They’re both really great teams, and we’ve worked all year for this so we’re gonna come out and fight. I’m excited,” Wells said.

“We come out here and we play for each other every night, every day, and we have a goal and won’t accept anything less than a championship.”

PHOTO: No. 11 Destinee Wells drives past an Austin Peay player in the semifinal game of the 2022 OVC Tournament in Evansville, Indiana, March 4, 2022. Belmont Vision / Landen Secrest

This article was written by A.J. Wuest and Landen Secrest

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