Updated: Nov 20
It all came down to the wire.
With less than a second left, junior Kilyn McGuff had the chance to secure a putback layup to give Belmont women’s basketball a miraculous win.
But with McGuff unable to secure a grip on the ball, the attempt fell just short as the Bruins lost to Mississippi State University Sunday afternoon, 63-62.
After the wins against the University of Georgia and Wichita State University, the Bruins looked to continue their hot streak against Power Five opponents.
At the top of the first quarter, the Bruins were off to a rough start with the offense unable to generate any points.
But the Bruins began to fight back with juniors Kendal Cheesman and Tessa Miller leading the charge on the attack.
Both teams were playing messy and lacked tight offense and defense as the first quarter ended with a Bulldogs 13-12 lead.
With the second quarter beginning, the Bulldogs 6-foot, five-inch forward Jessika Carter attempted to block almost every field goal.
This caused the Bruins’ offense to be out of sync as Cheesman and Miller were the only two players with points on the board.
As the first half winded down, the Bulldogs held a 10-point lead against the Bruins.
But with two minutes left in the quarter, the Bruins fought their way to 29-24 and kept the Bulldogs at a standstill.
At the beginning of the second half, the Bruins continued the offensive hot streak with Cheesman beyond the arc and junior Tuti Jones stealing the ball for a lonesome layup.
With fouls on the Bulldogs, Belmont slowly clawed its way to a one-point deficit.
By the end of the third quarter, the game was tied 45-45.
The fourth quarter was back-and-forth with both teams attacking on offense.
With three minutes remaining, the Bruins took the lead for the first time in the game after freshman Jailyn Banks made one of her eight free throws on the night.
The Bulldogs continued to add fouls, which gave the Bruins a chance to widen that gap.
But with two minutes remaining, the score was tied 59-59.
The game came down to the Bulldogs overpowering the Bruins in the final minute.
Banks and Jones shined as the offensive power dynamic, with 13 points for Banks and 18 for Jones, who led the Bruins.
But despite the close loss, head coach Bart Brooks said he isn’t disappointed in his team’s effort.
“They earned a victory today and I’m proud of our team and their effort,” Brooks said. “We had multiple opportunities to fold, and these guys threw some knockout punches early. I thought our team responded well.”
He said he understood the intense environment the team would be in and said the Bruins will look to use that to their advantage in March.
“When you put the schedule together, I think I always try to put our players in a position to play against teams who are going to be in the NCAA tournament, cause that’s where we want to be,” Brooks said. “We want to have an opportunity to see what it’s going to feel like. The lights go up a lot longer for some of these guys that we’re playing against.”
The lights will be even brighter for Brooks and the Bruins when they travel to Las Vegas to compete in the Ball Dawgs Classic on Nov. 24.
A matchup with nationally-ranked powerhouse Stanford University awaits.
This article was written by Cat Da Rocha