After back-to-back losses to Georgia Tech, Belmont women's basketball didn’t have to travel far to get back into the win column. The Bruins went down Belmont Boulevard on Tuesday night to face Lipscomb University in the 76th edition of the Battle of the Boulevard. With the help of a career night from sophomore Kilyn McGuff, who scored 25 points, the Bruins clinched a 77-68 victory over the Bisons, extending their win streak in the series to 13 games. The start of the game was an uphill battle for Belmont as Lipscomb was able to find a 12-4 lead halfway through the first quarter. But the Bruins stuck together and after several missed shots, McGuff took off scoring, knocking down a three-pointer and a layup to get Belmont back in rhythm. McGuff led the Bruins with 11 points at halftime as they entered the locker room with a 35-26 lead. Belmont head coach Bart Brooks praises McGuff for her performance on the court. “She was great, she got her opportunity, and she took full advantage of it,” he said. “That’s the Kilyn that we see in practice. We know it's there and it was beautiful to see it on the floor.” Junior guard Destinee Wells only scored six first half points, but started the third quarter strong. Draining a three-pointer just 15 seconds in, Wells helped the Bruins keep momentum on their side. But Belmont’s 12-point lead was quickly shortened by Lipscomb forward Aleah Sorrentino, who scored six points for the Bisons in the opening five minutes of the second half. McGuff continued to score along with Wells – who was second leading scorer for the night with 20 points. The tandem each provided 14 points in the second half. Senior Nikki Baird also provided a consistent performance down the stretch, scoring eight points through a mixture of three-pointers and free throws. With the absence of starting guard Tuti Jones, two Bruins picked up the slack. “It’s unfortunate that we were without her tonight,” Brooks said of Jones, who did not play in the Battle of the Boulevard due to an undisclosed injury. “She will be back soon.”
Graduate student Sydni Harvey and freshman Brooke Highmark made huge contributions for the Bruins, accounting for 14 points and eight rebounds together in their effort to fill the void in Jones’ absence.
“I thought to be without one of our starters tonight it was a really good effort from a lot of people,” Brooks said. “We got contributions from everyone which is huge for us.” For Lipscomb, guard Jalyn Holcomb and forward Bella Vinson supplied over 30 points for Lipscomb, but it was not enough to cut into the Bruins final 9-point differential. No matter the sport, the Battle of the Boulevard always means a lot to those who participate. “This is a huge rivalry, it's a big game for us, it's a big game for them and they're a really good team,” Brooks said of Lipscomb. “We knew it wasn’t going to be really difficult, it always is, we’ve never had an easy game here, ever.” With the win, Belmont secures its first victory since Nov. 26th against Saint Louis University in the 2022 Gulf Coast Showcase. Next up for the Bruins is the University of Georgia on the road on Dec. 17, before returning home on Dec. 20 to play Troy University. This article was written by Federico Pravettoni.