Led by a double-double from senior Haley Nelson and an early second half surge, the Belmont women’s basketball team held on to defeat the Jacksonville Dolphins 68-62 Saturday evening at the Curb Event Center.
The Bruins’ second-half lead, as large as 11 with less than twenty-nine seconds to go, was nearly negated by a a layup and two Dolphin three-pointers. Late free throws from Katie Brooks and Adrienne Tarrence sealed the game for Belmont, who were dressed in pink as part of the WBCA’s “Pink Zone” initiative for breast cancer awareness.
Head coach Brittany Ezell saw the second half as an example of what her team can do depending on their level of focus.
“I think the second half was a complete representation of when we are focused and can control the game and when we aren’t focused and can give the game away,” she said. We probably did everything in the last two minutes to give the game away.”
While the Bruins eventually won the game, Ezell is sure the Bruins must shake the “inconsistent” label in future games.
“You don’t ever want to hold on,” she said. “We need to continue to be consistent on a nightly basis.”
Belmont was led by Nelson, whose 22 points and 14 rebounds kept the Bruins in the game early.
Nelson took control for the Bruins, scoring 13 of the team’s first 15 points in the game. From there, the Dolphins had the lead for most of a half dominated by turnovers. A Molly Ernst three-pointer, the Bruins’ first of the game, gave the women a 28-27 halftime lead with 26.7 seconds to go.
Early second-half three-pointers by Katie Carroll and Ernst extended the Bruin lead to five and started a 10-2 Belmont run that put the Bruins in control for nearly all of the second half. The Bruins led by many as 15 with less than four minutes to go in the game.
The Bruins, in addition to Nelson, were led by Katie Brooks, who scored 14 points on the night.
The Dolphins were led by Crystal Bell, who scored 17 points and got 12 rebounds off the bench. Jade Cargill and Abril Peeples scored 11 and 10 points respectively.
The win allowed Belmont to hold their third-place standing in the Atlantic Sun Conference behind Florida Gulf Coast and Stetson. Their next game wraps up this year’s Battle of the Boulevard at Lipscomb on Saturday, Feb. 4.