Updated: Jun 27, 2022
The 2022 NCAA women’s tournament selection committee has spoken.
No. 12 seed Belmont University will dance their way to Knoxville, Tennessee, for a match-up against the No. 5 University of Oregon Ducks in the Thompson-Boling Arena on Saturday.
The teams were placed in the Wichita region, and the winner will advance to play the victors of the University of Tennessee versus the University of Buffalo contest in the second round.
“We’ve got our hands full,” Belmont head coach Bart Brooks said after the announcement. “We gotta get to work and figure out a way to hopefully give ourselves a chance down the stretch of that game.”
Claiming success on the big stage is nothing new to Brooks’ team; the Bruins pulled off an underdog defeat against No. 5 Gonzaga University in last season’s tournament.
“It’s a great experience that we have in our back pocket, but last year doesn’t do anything for us this year. We gotta go make it happen,” Brooks said.
Winning the Ohio Valley Conference Most Valuable Player award, Belmont sophomore Destinee Wells is prepared to put in the work to bring about another Bruins upset.
“We’ve been working so hard for this all year and I can’t wait to see it and hopefully our hard work will pay off,” Wells said.
Fifth-year senior Conley Chinn expressed her excitement, noting the confidence she has in her coaches and teammates.
“Someone’s gotta be confident in you, so might as well be confident in yourself,” Chinn said. “I know we have some great players on this team, some great girls. I think some of the greatest players in the nation and the greatest coaches in the nation.”
Chinn also commends Belmont’s student body for their support throughout the journey.
“We believe in women and women’s sports and lifting other women,” Chinn said.“Just to feel like we are supported and cheered for. I know Belmont students have done a great job of supporting us and it just feels great to know that we’re being noticed and recognized for all of our hard work.”
Heading into Saturday’s contest, Oregon will come hungry.
Falling short to the University of Utah in the Pacific-12 semifinals, the Ducks look to rebound.
Led by forward Nyara Sabally and guard Te-Hina Paopao, Oregon jumped to an impressive 20-11 record in its regular season, finishing third in the Pac-12.
The Ducks notably defeated the University of Arizona on Jan. 15 and dominated the University of Connecticut two days later.
Over in the Ohio Valley, Belmont is on a hot streak, winning its past 12 contests and solidifying its standing with an OVC Champion title for the second year in a row.
Led by Wells and Chinn, the Bruins are 22-7 and ready to fight to continue their dominant season.
Staying fairly local, Belmont women’s basketball will take I-40 three hours east for Saturday’s game in Knoxville.
“I think every little girl who grows up in this area dreams of playing on that floor,” Brooks said. “So we get to go play on that floor for the NCAA Tournament. There’s nothing better.”
PHOTO: Women’s basketball players (from left to right) Conley Chinn, Jamilyn Kinney, Madison Bartley, Tuti Jones and Destinee Wells react after their first opponent for March Madness was announced Sunday night. Jessica Mattsson / Belmont Vision
This article was written by A.J. Wuest. Contributory reporting by Jessica Mattsson.