• Lillie Burke

Women’s basketball opens at home with a resounding win grounded by strong defense

After a slow start to its first home game of the season, Belmont’s women’s basketball team rose to the occasion to secure a 63-34 victory over Alabama A&M University on Thursday.

“It’s great to be home. We did the math and with two scrimmages, we’ve played 13 games since our last home game so I forgot what our white jerseys looked like,” said head coach Bart Brooks.

“It was great to be in front of our people, our fans, and I thought we had a good student crowd out tonight.”

It was the Bruins’ defense that dominated the night, taking advantage of 22 turnovers to hold the Bulldogs to a field goal percentage of 24.1% and completely cut them off from 3-point distance.

Taking some time to warm up their scoring in the opening quarter, Belmont trailed 6-3 but found its groove after the first media timeout.

Belmont finished the first quarter outscoring the Bulldogs 10-0 with much-needed assistance from freshman guard Kilyn McGuff, who sparked the Bruins’ offense with 5 consecutive points.

“She’s been really good for us this preseason, and I thought everyone saw tonight maybe a glimpse of what she’s capable of,” Brooks said of McGuff. “I think she had a huge game with her energy and her effort and gave us a huge boost off the bench when we needed it in the first half, so I’m proud of her effort.”

Sophomore guards Destinee Wells and Tuti Jones both scored a team-high 16 points. Wells’ contributions came from four field goals and eight free throws, while Jones stacked up three 3-pointers, two field goals and three free throws.

“At the beginning, our shots weren’t falling as much as we wanted, so I just tried to bring as much energy to our team and ultimately to get us to come together and stay connected, and that helped us a lot,” said Jones.

The Bulldogs managed to tighten the margin to 8 points, heading into halftime with the Bruins leading 28-20. 

Coming out of the half, the Belmont defense thrived, allowing only three field goals past in the third quarter. The Bruins outscored the Bulldogs 17-7 in the 10-minute period, heading into the final quarter with a comfortable 45-27 lead. 

Belmont closed out the game in clean form, as fifth-year senior Conley Chinn, sophomore Blair Schoenwald and Jones each connected for 3-pointers in the last quarter. 

Offensively, the Bruins struggled throughout the game with 30% shooting success on the floor and 21.2% from 3-point distance. Their defensive performance, however, stood out in the overall low-scoring game.

“I think as we grow and get connected more offensively, we’re gonna have to defend and rebound to have a chance to win some of these games,” said Brooks. 

The Bruins stand with a 3-1 record and will now hit the road for Orlando, Florida, where they will compete against the University of Central Florida on Sunday. 

After playing the University of Arkansas away a week later, Belmont will return to the Curb Event Center to play Lipscomb University for a Battle of the Boulevard on Dec. 2.

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PHOTO: No. 24 Kiki Britzmann fighting for a layup in Thursday’s first home game, Nov. 18. Belmont Vision / Nikiah Perry.

This article was written by A.J. Wuest.

#KilynMcGuff #TutiJones #BlairSchoenwald #BelmontAthletics202122 #basketball #womensbasketball #WBB202122 #BelmontAlthetics #ConleyChinn #DestineeWells #CurbEventCenter

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