The Belmont women’s basketball team’s season came to a heartbreaking close on Friday with a 52-74 loss to the No. 4 seeded University of South Carolina in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
But for head coach Bart Brooks, playing in the tournament was about more than just winning.
“We had an incredible season, not only representing or program, but our university that values so much more than basketball,” Brooks said. “I’m so blessed to be able to coach.”
Because of the Bruins’ toughness, work and commitment, there is now an expectation the team will play in the NCAA Tournament every year, he said.
Belmont, a 13 seed, was able to keep up with South Carolina during the first quarter, ending with a close score of 13-16.
It wasn’t until the end of the half that the Gamecocks began to break away, leading at halftime with a score of 29-16.
Despite what the scoreboard said, the Bruins didn’t go down without a fight.
Senior Darby Maggard led the team with 13 points. Freshman Conley Chinn trailed closely behind, putting up 10 points.
Junior Ellie Harmeyer led with five rebounds, and senior Jenny Roy put up an impressive eight assists for the Bruins.
The Gamecocks came into the third quarter strong, making eight of their 11 shots, including three three-pointers. This quick scoring streak put South Carolina ahead by a 21-point lead.
Ultimately, the Bruins lacked size, and South Carolina dominated points in the paint 40-18. The Gamecocks also out-rebounded the Bruins 38-22.
After a hard-fought battle, Belmont fell to South Carolina with a final score of 74-52.
Though senior Darby Maggard’s collegiate career ended Friday, she has no doubt the Bruins will be back again for the next tournament, she said.
“I know these girls. They work hard,” said Maggard. “They’ll be back.”
The Bruins ended their season 26-7 and made program history by traveling to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth year in a row.
This article written by Marissa Avnaim. Photos by Melissa Kriz.