The women’s basketball team kicked off conference play on a high note Thursday night, beating Southern Illinois University Edwardsville 69-48 at the Curb Event Center.
Though the Bruins struggled through an unusually tough non-conference schedule, ending 2019 with a 5-6 record, they had a strong advantage coming into this game.
The Cougars 2-9 record left it sitting at the bottom of the Ohio Valley Conference ranking, and in the two team’s last six meetings, Belmont had won every time.
The Bruins — coming off of an 11-day break after losing to Marquette on the road on Dec. 21 — had a slow start to the game, due to some early missed shots and pushback from the Cougars’ strong defense. But a 3-point jumper from sophomore Jamilyn Kinney and two made free throws by senior Ellie Harmeyer turned the game in the Bruins favor, and the team took a slim 11-9 lead by the end of the first quarter.
Belmont extended its lead through the second quarter, and by halftime held a 31-19 advantage over SIUE, thanks to 11 points from Harmeyer and 7 from Kinney.
By the time the second half began, Belmont came out as the dominant team. Harmeyer and fellow senior Maura Muensterman each racked up 6 additional points in the third quarter, helping the Bruins to a 47-34 lead.
The team pulled away even further in the fourth quarter, ending with a final score of 69-48.
Harmeyer led the team with 22 points and 13 rebounds, and Kinney provided 4 assists, along with 13 points of her own.
Thursday’s win bumped Belmont to second place in the OVC rankings, behind Tennessee Tech. The Bruins now hold an impressive 35-2 record in OVC games since head coach Bart Brooks took the lead in 2017.
The Bruins will look to improve their record further on Saturday, taking on Eastern Illinois University at 2 p.m. in the Curb Event Center.
— Photos by Bronte Lebo.