Belmont women’s basketball’s physical play on both sides of the ball led to a 75-67 win against Wichita State University on Wednesday.
It was the first time ever that the Bruins and Shockers faced each other.
The scoring began instantly with junior Kilyn McGuff scoring 5 points early for the Bruins while Jayla Murray and Tre’Zure Jobe attacked the Bruins in the paint and from beyond the arc.
But Belmont slowly constricted the Shockers’ offense with junior Tuti Jones locking down Jobe, forcing less-than-stellar shots.
The Bruins then turned that defense into offense, taking a 22-17 lead going into the second quarter.
The second quarter featured more back-and-forth action.
The Shockers had multiple stretches where the offense seemed to click.
But Belmont never surrendered its lead, fighting back with runs of its own.
At the half, the Bruins led 41-36 despite only shooting 23% from 3-point range, which was its specialty in its win against Georgia.
The third quarter unfolded as a sloppy exchange for both teams.
The ball seemed to go everywhere but in the basket.
It went off players’ faces and feet and even ended up in the second row at one point.
Despite Wichita State's attempts to narrow the gap, Belmont countered with high-energy plays, maintaining a 57-53 lead, keeping the fans on their toes.
As the final quarter began, the slow start carried over for both teams.
But the action soon picked up with junior Kendal Cheesman's 3-pointer for Belmont being met swiftly by the Shockers.
Tensions were high on the court heading into a media timeout.
But Belmont dominated in the paint, making five of its last seven shots and securing the eight-point win.
McGuff finished with a near double-double, having 14 points and nine rebounds while junior Tessa Miller also finished with a near double-double with 17 points and eight rebounds.
Even with these performances, head coach Bart Brooks said the offense left a lot to be desired.
“I don’t think we ever had offensive rhythm the whole night,” Brooks said. “I think we were a little bit disjointed. We didn’t have our best level of execution tonight for whatever reason.’
But he said he is still impressed with how his team adjusted around its offensive struggles.
“You don’t gameplan for bad shooting. You always hope they shoot great,” Brooks said. “But I think there’s enough variety in our offense that we have to get inside baskets, and we have a system to get to the free throw line. And tonight we made our free throws and we made enough inside baskets.”
Now, Brooks and the Bruins turn their attention to Sunday when they play Mississippi State University, which received 51 points in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll.
For him, it could be the biggest test for his team this season.
“They’re going to be the best team we’ve played this year so far. They’re well coached,” Brooks said. “But it’s what we signed up for. We’ll find out where we are as a program on Sunday.”
This article was written by Alissia Fulton