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Women's Basketball Falls in WBIT Second Round


Courtesy of Belmont Athletics

Despite a disappointing weekend for the Belmont women’s basketball team at the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, a unique opportunity arose for the team to end the season on a high note. 


The Bruins were invited to the inaugural Women’s Basketball Invitation Tournament. 


The WBIT serves as the NCAA’s official alternative to the WNIT, allowing the teams that missed out on the NCAA tournament to continue to compete at the end of the season. 


The top 16 teams in this tournament were seeded 1-4 in their respective quadrants, while the remaining 16 teams were unranked. 


Belmont entered the tournament unranked and faced No. 4 Ball State to open the tournament. 


The only other matchup between these two teams ever was the first round of last year’s WNIT, in which the Cardinals outpaced the Bruins in a 101-86 shootout. 


Belmont entered the tournament with a tall task, beating a higher-seeded team on their home court. which Ball State dominated at, posting a 13-1 record this season. 


The first half was chippy, tense and competitive. 


Belmont led 35-32 at the half, largely thanks to Ball State’s many fouls. 


Cardinal’s junior guard Ally Becki, who made second team All-MAC this season, had four fouls in the first half alone, including a technical foul given to her after she slammed the ball down in frustration to a foul called on her.  


Becki’s teammate and fellow point guard Hana Mühl committed her fourth foul early in the third quarter, causing Ball State’s unraveling.  


The Bruins opened the second half with 12 unanswered points and used that momentum to outscore the Cardinals 24-9 in the third quarter, including a buzzer-beater three-pointer from junior guard Kilyn McGuff. 


McGuff scored at will the entire game, tying her career-high with 22 points. 


“She played great,” said head coach Bart Brooks. “We leaned on her. She got us a rhythm in the second half, and I thought we leaned on her on the defensive end of the floor as well.” 


Senior teammate Blair Schoenwald set her own personal record with a career-best five 3-pointers made on just six attempts. 


Belmont as a team was lights-out from deep, shooting 45.8% from the three-point line. 


In the end, the Bruins’ defense stood tall, and their offense shined in a 77-59 victory in the first game in WBIT history. 


Game two for the Bruins came against the Penn State Lady Lions, the No. 1 seed in their region. 


Belmont dominated the boards in the first half, outrebounding Penn State 20-9 overall and 9-4 on the offensive glass. 


Despite that, they led by just three points entering the half, mostly due to shooting just 16.7% from three-point range to that point. 


Penn State came out of the half energized, going on a 7-0 run to start the half. 


The Lady Lions’ suffocating press gave the Bruins problems all night, as they were forced into three separate 10-second violations. 


They were also able to settle into their fast-paced offense in the second half, giving the Lady Lions a 51-45 lead heading into the final quarter; clicking both offensively and defensively.

  

Belmont battled until the end, but ultimately fell 74-66 to Penn State. 


The Bruins made three of their last six three-point attempts, but their 4-20 start from deep hindered their overall success. 


This, paired with 20 team turnovers, proved too much to overcome. 


Kilyn McGuff led the team in both points and rebounds, with 20 and 8 respectively. 


Blair Schoenwald once again only shot from behind the three-point line, cashing in on all four of her attempts. 


The Bruins’ sole senior finished her Belmont career making nine of her last ten shots across a two-game span, all from beyond the arc.  


While it may be a disappointing end to the season, the Bruins have plenty to hang their hats on. 


Their 26 combined wins are good for the program’s ninth straight 20-win campaign. 


Their win against Ball State is the team’s first national postseason victory since the 2022 NCAA Tournament. 


Additionally, with Blair Schoenwald is the only senior on the roster, it is possible that this core can stick together for another year with an entire off-season’s worth of improvement. 


“We’ve got some great veteran players that have played a lot of ball for us,” said Brooks. “I know we can build, and they’re all back.” 


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This article was written by Nick Rampe


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