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Women’s basketball smothers Central Florida 72-37 as Bruins knock down 11 three-pointers

The women’s basketball team picked up their second win of the season after beating the University of Central Florida 72-37 at the Curb Event Center on Saturday night.

The Bruins’ match up with the Golden Knights was the first meeting between the two programs since the 2005-2006 season, and the Knights came into the game off of the momentum of beating a Power 5 opponent in Pittsburgh Wednesday night.

Sophomore point guard Jamilyn Kinney returned to the starting lineup after missing the season opener versus Chattanooga due to injury, and Ellie Harmeyer followed up her 22-point, 20-rebound performance on Wednesday with another double-double, this time scoring 14 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Maddie Wright led all scorers with 17 points, adding nine rebounds as well.

“It feels really good,” coach Bart Brooks said. “We knew we could beat them, I’m not sure we thought we could beat them like we beat them. Huge credit to our players for their focus, their commitment to the game, and then for their toughness to weather the storm.”

UCF came out swinging, scoring their first six points in four minutes, all of which came from mid-range jump shots. The Knights’ offense early in the game was apparently designed to open up looks for guards to create their own shots.

UCF followed their aggressive offensive start with a scoring drought that lasted over five minutes, but they played persistent defense for the entire quarter. The Knights utilized a fast-paced zone defense to collapse on the ball handler and put pressure on the Bruins in half and full-court presses.

“That’s a really hard team to play against with their defensive pressure, a really unique team to prepare for,” Coach Brooks said.

Late in the quarter, Conley Chinn blocked a shot to force a jump ball that resulted in one of four first quarter turnovers forced by the Bruins. Chinn went on to drain a three-pointer from the corner, the first three-point make by either team, a minute later.

The Bruins finished the quarter when Wright posted up for a lay-in as the last few seconds ticked away. Belmont led 13-8 after the first quarter, during which UCF’s coach was vocal with her frustration toward the referees on multiple occasions.

Chinn made her second three-pointer of the game less than a minute into the second quarter, beginning the barrage of Bruins threes. Maura Muensterman then knocked down deep threes on consecutive possessions, paving the way for the Bruins to finish the first half with a 31-17 lead.

Muensterman’s second quarter, which featured nine points on three three-pointers and two rebounds, was the key to her successful night.

“We were moving the ball great, and I had the easy job,” Muensterman said. “If it wasn’t for my teammates finding me and hitting me when I was open, that wouldn’t have been possible at all. It was exciting to see us move the ball like that as a whole.”

The Bruins opened up the third quarter with layups by Chinn, Muensterman, and Wright, and held UCF scoreless for the first three minutes of the third quarter.

About halfway through the third quarter, Jamilyn Kinney recorded her first points of the season on a three-pointer assisted by Muensterman, who recorded another assist a few possessions later when she found Chinn for another corner three, extending the Bruins’ lead to 45-22.

With less than a minute to play in the third quarter, Harmeyer grabbed an offensive rebound and took the ball back into the lane, drawing a foul on a made layup. Though she didn’t make the free throw, Wright hauled in an offensive rebound of her own and scored two more points on a turnaround jumper to put the Bruins up 55-26 at the end of the third quarter.

Kinney added onto her strong season debut when she drilled another three on the Bruins’ first possession of the fourth quarter. Wright followed Kinney’s second three-point make with her first three of the evening on an assist for Kiki Britzmann, who drove up the floor and found Wright in the corner.

The Bruins reached the 70-point mark, as sophomore Grace Smith came into the game and pulled up for a three to extend the Bruins’ lead to 71-37 with only a minute to play. One final made free throw by Britzmann brought the lead up to 72-37, matching the largest lead of the game at 35 points as the buzzer sounded on the Bruins’ blowout victory.

Coach Brooks reflected on the addition of Kinney to the starting lineup as she returned from a one-game absence.

“I think it puts everyone at ease because everyone’s back to their normal positions, and Jamilyn is a really good player,” Brooks said. “In the second half I think everyone saw how good she’s going to be, shooting the basketball and making plays for her team. I’m really excited to have her back.”

The Bruins will head to Bowling Green on Wednesday to face cross-state rival Western Kentucky University as they look to pick up their third consecutive win to start the season.

Article written by Evan Dorian. Contributing reporting by Julieann Challacombe. Photos by Colby Crosby. Video produced by Caitlin Alexander.

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