For the third consecutive year, the Belmont women’s basketball team was eliminated from their conference tournament in heartbreaking fashion.
“In my heart, I feel a little like Vince Lombardi. I don’t think we got beat, we ran out of time. The fight that kids showed and the resiliency playing through some questionable things, I was so proud of their heart and effort,” said coach Brittney Ezell.
Down by two with less than four seconds left, sophomore Jordyn Luffman attempted a game-tying shot that fell short as the Bruins fell to the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles 61-57 in the Ohio Valley Conference semifinals at Municipal Auditorium.
“I loved that shot that Jordan got. We wanted to go at the rim and play at the basket,” Ezell said. “I thought she got hit but you can’t be upset with a shot two feet inside the paint to tie the ballgame. That’s what we want.”
In the early minutes of the first half, Alyssa Visbeen hit a three-pointer to put Belmont up 5-2 with 15 minutes remaining.
After the Golden Eagles tied the game at 11 off a Diamond Henderson jumper, Tech pulled ahead 14-11 with a 3-pointer from Kellie Cook. Belmont regained the lead minutes later with 3-pointer from Molly Ernst.
Tech then went on an 8-0 run to build a 22-16 lead and held the Bruins scoreless for four minutes until Visbeen made a layup with three minutes left in the half.
Belmont closed out the first half with a 7-2 run, including another 3-pointer from Ernst with 10 seconds left, to cut Tech’s halftime lead to 27-25.
“Any one of us is capable of hitting that shot, and I was just the open one. But it was important for us to get a bucket right before going into the half,” Ernst said. “It definitely stopped that momentum that they had and helped us out.”
During the first half, Belmont shot 33 percent from the field and 40 percent from behind the arc. Tech was held to 41 percent shooting.
To open up the second half, senior guard Katie Brooks scored eight straight points for the Bruins to keep Belmont within two.
For the next several minutes, Tech put together an 8-1 run to build a 42-34 lead.
Belmont continued to chip away at that lead and pulled within four several times, including with a Luffman 3-pointer with nine minutes to go.
After another layup from Brooks pulled the Bruins within one, the Golden Eagles hit two free throws and a layup to go back up 54-49.
With almost a minute remaining, back-to-back 3-pointers from Carroll and Luffman helped the Bruins close the gap back down to one point again.
After Luffman missed the jumper, two final free throw shots from the Golden Eagles sealed the victory.
Belmont finished the season with a 18-13 record, the first winning record during Ezell’s tenure.
“For those are who listening and making selections, this is a postseason team and deserves consideration,” Ezell said. “Don’t count us out. 18 wins was a fantastic year for Belmont women’s basketball.”