The Murray State Racers snapped the Belmont Bruins’ 17-game home win streak against Ohio Valley Conference opponents, in a 72-66 win at the Curb Event Center on Tuesday.
In a slow ground-out game, personal fouls became Belmont’s bugaboo down the stretch. The team struggled to keep Murray State off of the free throw line, committing 20 personal fouls–12 of which came in the fourth quarter with the game still in the balance.
Though Belmont held Murray State to 2-10 from the field in the fourth, the Racers shot 18 free throws and made 15 of them.
The fouling disparity became too much for Belmont to overcome as Murray State won its first game over Belmont since the Bruins joined the OVC.
“That is a great Murray State team that has been playing really well lately and they deserved to win the game,” head coach Bart Brooks said postgame.
The game opened up for the Bruins with Junior Conley Chinn scoring 10 of her eventual 14 points in the first frame of action. She shot 4-5 from the field and 2-3 from three, as she kept Belmont in the game early. Chinn’s offensive spark provided a lift for a Bruins team that started the game trailing 9-2.
By the end of the first quarter, Belmont nursed a 15-6 scoring run and held an overall lead of 19-15 in the game.
In the second quarter the Bruins offense lost life, scoring only 11 points in 10 minutes of play. Murray State blitzed Belmont’s defense, scoring 18 points on 8-17 shooting.
Murray State freshman forward Katelyn Young was the high-point scorer in the quarter with six points on 3-4 field goal shooting. At the half Murray State held the 33-30 lead.
Belmont’s freshman guard, Tuti Jones, and Murray State’s Junior guard Macey Turley battled throughout the third quarter, as both teams attempted to pull away in the game. The two traded basket-for-basket as the game crescendoed to a climactic fourth quarter of action.
Turley scored 11 of her 20 in the quarter. Meanwhile, Jones tallied nine of her 14 points in that same stretch. And heading into the fourth quarter Murray State held a 53-50 lead over Belmont.
The fourth quarter showed the rust Belmont was playing with, due to basketball related activities being postponed since Dec. 20.
As a team, the Bruins shot 30 percent from the field and 16 percent from three to close the game out. However, the team remained competitive throughout the quarter, forcing turnovers and bad shot attempts. Yet, Belmont could not capitalize on the wealth of opportunities the aggressive defense afforded them.
Star freshmen Jones and Destinee Wells combined for 1-7 from the floor in the fourth, and both suffered through key misses down the stretch. Junior guard Jamilyn Kinney didn’t make her first shot until seven seconds were left in the contest. She ended the game 1-7 from the field and 1-4 from three.
Amidst the poor shooting the Belmont defense should still be praised for its effort. The Bruins tallied 10 steals in the game, extending the streak to five-straight games with double-digit in the category. This team hangs its hat on defense, and as things swing back into motion the offense will eventually fall into place.
“I am proud of our team for their effort tonight,” Brooks said. “We are excited to get back to work and continue improving with our team.”
Belmont now sits at 4-3 on the year, 1-1 in the OVC. Next up on the schedule is Eastern Illinois on Thursday. Tip off is slated for 4 p.m at the Curb Event Center.
This article written by Ian Kayanja.