Women ascend to OVC’s No. 1 while men fall hard at Saturday’s doubleheader against Murray Stat
The women’s basketball team rose to the occasion while the men failed to execute against Ohio Valley Conference rival Murray State University.
Distance shooting was the name of the game for the women, who downed 10 3-pointers to bring home a 67-52 victory in the Curb Event Center on Saturday.
The men followed in poorer form, shooting an inefficient 3-point percentage of 21.7% as the Racers upset the Bruins’ eight-game winning streak 82-60.
Bartley leads the charge for the women, team climbs to No. 1 in OVC standings
Sophomore forward Madison Bartley left it all on the court Saturday, racking up a career-high 29 points and eight rebounds.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do it without all of my teammates,” Bartley said. “Their passes, their energy, the energy on the bench was outstanding today.”
Bartley and her Bruins set the tone early in the contest, tallying nine points within the first two minutes of play. After a layup and a 3-pointer from the forward and two additional layups from fifth-year-senior guard Conley Chinn and sophomore Destinee Wells respectively, the Bruins hit their stride.
But the Racers responded, narrowing Belmont’s lead to 15-13 at the start of the second quarter.
The next four Belmont scores came from behind the arc as Bartley and Wells downed one each and sophomore guard Blair Schoenwald connected with two.
From that point, the Bruins were outscored 15-7 for the remainder of the half, leaving the home team with just a four-point lead headed into the locker room.
“Murray is really talented, a really good basketball team and it was as challenging as it looked like it was going to be in preparation,” head coach Bart Brooks said. “They’re physical, they’re well-coached, they run their stuff well and they’ve got some really good players, so it was a challenge for us.”
The third quarter remained tight throughout as the lead seesawed between teams.
With four minutes remaining in the quarter, sophomore guard Tuti Jones downed a tie-breaking 3-point jumper making the score 50-47, and in the last stretch, Bartley came home with 14 points to finish out the contest.
“Madison Bartley, I thought she was what she could be,” said Brooks. “Since we recruited her I’ve seen this in her and I’m just thrilled that she was able to do it on stage and she did it today.”
The Bruins now lead in the OVC standings with an overall 9-5 record. They are 5-0 in conference play.
After a well-earned rest, the women are set to travel to Morehead State University to play Thursday before returning to the Curb Event Center on Saturday for a game against Tennessee Tech University.
Men’s basketball’s No. 22 Ben Sheppard soaring towards the hoop at the tough Murray State game Saturday. Belmont Vision / Landen Secrest.
Men’s basketball can’t keep up with Racers’ speed and accuracy
After an afternoon win for the women, the men couldn’t keep pace with the Racers, losing to their Kentucky rival by over 20 points.
The Bruins were unsuccessful in slowing Murray State sophomore guard Justice Hill, who banked a season-high 36 points in his 35 minutes of play.
Junior Ben Sheppard led Belmont with 13 points and seven high-energy rebounds in the early-evening game. Senior center Nick Muszynski and graduate student guard Luke Smith also scored in the double digits with 12 and 11 points respectively.
But it wasn’t enough to bring the Bruins to a win.
Going into the game, Muszynski knew it would be a tough one, he said before the showdown.
“Somebody is gonna lose this game and I think the loser of that game is gonna be really good,” Muszynski said. “It’s gonna be highly competitive, it’s gonna be close, it’ll be really physical. It’s gonna come down to execution.”
As Muszynski predicted, Belmont’s weaker execution Saturday was the dealbreaker. The team downed a mere 5 of 23 shots from behind the arc and allowed 56% of the Racers shots from three to connect.
Murray State outscored Belmont 11-2 within the first six minutes of play, but Belmont responded and tightened the score to 20-18 after a 3-point bucket from Smith.
Despite several field goals from Sheppard, sophomore guard JaCobi Wood and forward Frank Jukubicek, Murray State kept responding and led 48-35 at half.
The Racers held their commanding lead for the remainder of the game, giving Belmont few chances to catch up.
“I think they’re a really good team,” Belmont head coach Casey Alexander said. “Last year was an anomaly, but this year they’re back to being Murray.”
After a hard loss at home, the Bruins now stand with a 13-4 overall record and fall to third place in the OVC standings behind Morehead State and Murray State.
Both Murray State and Belmont will move to the Missouri Valley Conference after this season, keeping the long-standing rivalry between them fully intact.
The men will play their next four games on the road, starting with Southern Illinois University Edwardsville on Monday.
PHOTO: Belmont’s No. 3 Madison Bartley with a big smile and a bigger showing at Saturday’s game versus Murray State. Belmont Vision / Landen Secrest.
This story was written by A.J. Wuest. Contributory reporting by Landen Secrest.
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