Belmont women’s basketball dismantled Tennessee State University 83-35 to open up Ohio Valley Conference play at the Curb Event Center Thursday night.
Belmont now improves to 2-1 on the season and 1-0 in conference play. Thursday’s win over TSU marks 21 straight at the Curb, and the game was headlined by the outstanding play of the freshman class, and great team defense.
“From day one, they showed up to compete with our older girls,” said head coach Bart Brooks after the game. “I thought all preseason that we had a chance to be pretty good, and after tonight there is still a lot of work to do, but I love the pieces, and skillset on our team.”
Five freshman players provided a necessary spark for Belmont, to propel the team to a dominant win over an experienced TSU team.
Freshman guard Whitney Hay had a career night, scoring 12 points on 4-6 shooting from the field and 4-4 shooting from three. Along with Hay, the freshman guard Tuti Jones tallied 11 points, four rebounds and seven steals. And Blair Schoenwald played in her debut and put up six points, going 2-3 from three.
The other two freshmen are Madison Bartley and Destinee Wells, who provided stabilizing roles for Belmont all night. Wells put up seven assists, and Bartley provided six points on 3-5 shooting from the field.
“I am thrilled with how they started the season,” Brooks said. “I love how they are competing for us.”
Senior forward Madison Treece paced both teams in scoring for the game with 13 points on 6-9 shooting from the field, but a majority of her points came in the second half.
Early on for Belmont, it was all junior Jamilyn Kinney and junior Conley Chinn. Kinney assisted on the first basket of the game, given Belmont a 3-0 lead. Following a made TSU basket, Kinney would hit a three-point jump shot herself, putting Belmont up 6-2 three minutes through the first quarter.
Following a series of back-to-back scores for TSU, Chinn made a layup, bringing the score to 8-6. She then helped force a miss on the defensive end and grabbed the subsequent rebound leading to her assisting Bartley on a layup. She would then make a three, giving Belmont a 13-6 lead halfway through the first quarter.
The Bruins didn’t look back from that point on.
Kinney finished the game with 12 points on 4-7 shooting with seven assists. Chinn would finish with eight points, scoring all of them in the first quarter.
Belmont’s zone defense owned the second half of the game, holding TSU to 16 percent shooting, 4-25 from the field. The Bruins would outscore the Lady Tigers 38-13 in the entire second half. And TSU would only make 1-11 field goals in the fourth quarter.
Belmont produced 24 points off of turnovers as TSU struggled to hold on to the ball all game.
As a team, Belmont shot 50 percent on the game, and 47 percent from three. It also received a lift from great bench production as the players coming off the pine totaled 37 points. And the Bruins owned the glass, out-rebounding TSU 39-30 on the game.
Belmont is finding its groove early in the season, and the team hopes to bring that energy into the next game against Marquette on Dec. 13.
“The chaos and the craziness that’s been this season already,” said Brooks. “We are just blessed to play anyone, any day, anywhere. Whether it’s a week away, or two months away. We are just excited to get back on this court and play.”
This article written by Ian Kayanja. Photo courtesy of Belmont Athletics.