Belmont women’s basketball used its high-powered offense to secure its seventh-straight win Friday night, continuing to look like a threat in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Whether it was from three or in the paint, the Bruins couldn’t do much wrong on offense during their 93-53 win against the University of Evansville.
Every Belmont player scored, pleasing head coach Bart Brooks.
“I thought we played a pretty collective game tonight with our group,” Brooks said. “I thought we had a lot of contributions from our bench and from our starters that were ready to play when the game started.”
In the first half, the Bruins shot 50% from the field and 7-17 from three-point range while Junior big Madison Bartley was dominant on the inside.
She scored the first 10 points for the Bruins, finishing the first half with 19 points by punishing the Purple Aces in the paint.
Junior guard Destinee Wells earned seven points and dished out six assists, mostly on smooth passes to Bartley for easy buckets.
Completing the Bruins’ scoring onslaught, sophomore forwards Kendal Cheesman and Tessa Miller both added six points.
Cheesman converted both of her three-point attempts while Miller fought her way into the paint.
The Bruins clicked on the defensive end with five blocks, six steals, holding Evansville's leading scorer Abby Feit to zero points.
The result was a 49-27 lead going into the halftime.
Bartley attributed the stellar performance to the team being hyped to play.
“When we come out with that energy, it’s so hard not to play good as a team,” Bartley said.
The second half was a repeat of the first twenty minutes as Evansville was unable to contain the Bruins offensively.
Bartley continued causing trouble for the Purple Aces by not only being a menace in the paint, she also stepped out for an occasional three-pointer.
Finishing the game with 26 points despite not playing for most of the fourth quarter, she credits her teammates for her impressive performance.
“It all starts with my teammates, finding me cutting and them being able to get me open. It’s really up to me to finish it,” Bartley said.
Wells continued her flashy style of play through her scoring but also not being afraid to find her open teammate for an easy bucket.
She finished with 11 points and nine assists.
Cheesman contributed 14 points off the bench, going 4-7 from three.
Overall, the Bruins hit 14 three pointers as the Hampton Inn and Suites Balloon was beginning to become cramped with cutout 3s.
For the Purple Aces, fifth-year guard Myia Clark led the team with 14 points.
Brooks is pleased with the seven-game win streak but still feels that his team still has room to grow.
“I’m encouraged by our team because I don’t think there’s any complacency with our group. There’s a hunger to get better,” Brooks said. “We’ve got an edge about us that we’re competing to do something big at the end of the season, and that’s still in front of us.”
While a win was a reason for fans to celebrate, Belmont also celebrated Betty Wiseman’s upcoming 80th birthday, which is on Feb. 19th.
The crowd, including President Greg Jones and First Lady Susan Jones, dressed up as Wiseman.
Widely known as “Belmont Betty” to college basketball fans across the country, Wiseman formed Belmont’s first-ever women’s basketball team in 1968.
To this day, she still cheers on the team every home game, sometimes even traveling to support her girls.
As a player, Bartley is blessed that Wiseman is there for the team when they need it.
“She’s such an inspiration. To have someone that supports you unconditionally is something to be blessed about,” Bartley said. “She deserves to be recognized.”
For Brooks, Wiseman’s dedication to the program is what truly makes her special.
“She’s lived through every season, every player, every coach, every gym. She’s everywhere, and she’s still a part of our program. It’s pretty cool that as we’re competing against these teams, I can look behind me and see her sitting there,” Brooks said.
He also respects her for being a trailblazer in women’s sports.
“You just think of all the obstacles that she had to overcome in being a women’s program before Title IX, having to persevere while fighting for gym space and money for travel and uniforms,” Brooks said. “It’s awesome that people get to celebrate her and really give her some much-deserved recognition.”
At her birthday celebration in the Maddox Grand Atrium, Wiseman couldn’t contain her excitement about the win.
“I feel like a million dollars,” Wiseman said. “A win anytime is good, but it’s all about those girls out there!”
This article was written by Ty Wellemeyer