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Women’s basketball gets back up with win over Missouri State

It’s not about the fall. It’s about how you get back up. Emma Woodhead/Belmont Vision.

Ebbs and flows.

Belmont women’s basketball knows exactly what they are.

The Bruins needed a confidence boost heading into Friday night’s game against Missouri State University after suffering two-straight losses.

Leading the way for Belmont was junior Madison Bartley, who finished the night with a stellar 26 points and eight rebounds.

“Just to be able to come out and play together and have the confidence of having great practices this week and coming and knowing we can win,” Bartley said. “And we play together, and we play tough, and we play hard like we can do anything. So, having that confidence was just great to see.”

Falling to Missouri Valley Conference opponents Murray State University and Illinois State University, the Bruins picked themselves back up with a 75-66 victory at the Curb Event Center.

With Bartley’s performance, 20 points stemmed from junior Destinee Wells, who also provided nine assists in the victory.

Wells prepares a 3-pointer. The floor general is shooting nearly 40% from behind the arc this season. Emma Woodhead/Belmont Vision.

Named to the Mid-Major Player of the Year Award Midseason Watch List, Wells is the only player in the MVC averaging over 16 points.

The Bruins maintained a solid offensive and defensive front during the entirety of the game.

Starting the game off strong, the Bruins took the lead with a 3-pointer from graduate Sydni Harvey during the first quarter’s 7:13 mark and didn’t trail for the remainder of the game.

By the end of the first half, the Bruins entered the locker room with a 31-20 lead.

Although she hasn’t dressed since facing Georgia Tech in early December, junior Tuti Jones has proved to be a crucial leader for the Bruins.

“She’s obviously one of our leaders, probably at times our emotional barometer, who when stuff gets hard, we know Tuti is going to help us get through it in some shape or form. She’s done that her whole career here,” head coach Bart Brooks said. “I think the most searching we’ve done since she’s been out is who’s going to lead us when we’re struggling and when things aren’t going well.”

Returning to the floor for the second half, the Bruins looked to finish the night like they started.

But the Lady Bears came hungry, narrowing the Bruin lead to three.

After a needed timeout with just under three minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Belmont offense gained back its rhythm with back-to-back field goals from sophomore Kilyn McGuff and Bartley.

Leading 48-40 to start the fourth, Belmont wasted no time in racking up points.

After a layup from Missouri State’s Kennedy Taylor, the Bruins responded with a 3 from sophomore Tessa Miller and another field goal from Bartley.

Still any side’s game, the winner was determined in the final 10-minute stretch.

With 4:26 remaining in regulation, Wells knocked in a trey to put the Bruins ahead by five. Bartley added to the lead with a layup, making the score 62-55.

Bartley approaches the free throw line, where she went a perfect 8-8 in the game. Emma Woodhead/Belmont Vision.

From there, the Bruin defense was able to limit the Bears as the offense continued to score layups and free throws.

Overall, Belmont limited Missouri State to an inefficient 34% shooting night as the Bruins shot a season-high 80% at the free throw line.

After the win, the Bruins stand with an overall 8-10 record and a 4-3 conference record.

“Really what is the most important part of this is getting better every day and that’s what our focus has been on,” Brooks said. “The result is beautiful, and we love the result tonight. But the work that went in, the process of getting better this week, I think led to the result.”

The Bruins hope to remain in the win column on Sunday as they host Southern Illinois University at 2 p.m. This article was written by Cat Da Rocha.

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