Fueled by successful three-point shooting, the Belmont women’s basketball team emerged victorious in the quarterfinals of the Ohio Valley Conference tournament over SIU-Edwardsville 62-45.
During the last five minutes of the game, sophomore Adrienne Tarrence took charge, scoring 10 of Belmont’s final 16 points to secure the victory for the Bruins.
Tarrence led all scorers with 14 points, including going 6-for-6 from the free throw line.
“Looking at Adrienne Tarrence, you’re seeing an all-conference performer for the next two years. She’s only of the most naturally gifted players I’ve coached,” said coach Brittney Ezell. “She’s explosive and understands the game. She is quite capable of handling the game down the stretch.”
Belmont opened the game with a hot shooting streak from behind the arc. After being down 4-2, the Bruins knocked down four straight 3-pointers from Katie Carroll, Alyssa Visbeen and Molly Ernst to take a 14-4 lead.
“It was good to hit a couple and it really got us going,” Visbeen said. “I was happy that our team stepped up and took that challenge.”
On the other side of the court, strong defense stepped up for the Bruins and held the Cougars scoreless for over eight minutes until Jessie Wendt made a layup.
For the remainder of the half, Belmont continued to dominate on both sides of the ball. With five minutes remaining, back-to-back 3-pointers from Torie Vaught and Ernst gave Belmont a 25-10 lead.
With less than two minutes to go, senior Katie Brooks hit four free throws off a foul and technical foul to give Belmont a 29-12 halftime lead.
Belmont shot 44 percent from behind the arc in the first half, hitting seven of 16 attempted shots. At the same time, the Bruins gave up the fewest points in a half than they had all season.
“Our M.O. all year has been defending. We had a goal to hold them under 50 points,” Ezell said. “To hold a team of that caliber to 12 points in the first half, I think it was the determination. Our kids showed a lot of grit today.”
Throughout the second half, both teams exchanged baskets back and forth as SIUE tried to cut down Belmont’s double-digit lead.
With 5:19 left, Raven Berry hit a layup for the Cougars to cut the Belmont lead to 13. But then Tarrence took over for the Bruins to advance the team to the semifinals.
“Our defense really fueled our offensive game. I was able to get momentum off that and get points in transition. That helped us a lot,” Tarrence said.
Belmont will face the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles in Friday’s semifinal at 2 p.m. The Bruins were swept by the Golden Eagles during the regular season.
“All I can focus on is my team and getting them prepared as best as we can,” Ezell said.