Yes, you read that right.
Belmont women’s basketball absolutely dominated on the court Sunday afternoon.
Head coach Bart Brooks knows that his team has struggled to put together complete games this season.
Against Southern Illinois, the Bruins finally put one together.
Whether it was on offense or defense, Belmont seemed unable to do any wrong in a 101-45 routing of the visiting Salukis.
“I think we’ve had spurts and stretches this year where we’ve been really good for a quarter, for a half or for three quarters,” Brooks said. “But we put it together for four quarters today.”
On offense, the Bruins utilized junior Madison Bartley and sophomore Tessa Miller to punish Southern Illinois in the paint.
Bartley finished with a team-high 22 points while Miller added 15 points.
Junior guard Destinee Wells decided to attack the basket and shoot from behind in a night where she shot 7-9 from the field and finished with 17 points.
The fourth Bruin in double-digits was sophomore guard Kilyn McGuff who added 12 points with seven rebounds, helping showcase the Bruins’ offensive firepower.
Belmont’s dominance translated to the defensive end as the Bruins were ultra-aggressive, forcing 13 Saluki turnovers.
Southern Illinois didn’t score a point until 1:21 left in the first quarter, allowing Belmont to quickly take a 17-0 lead.
And they never let go.
On rebounds and loose balls, the Bruins hustled, expressing true grit with a slight edge.
Brooks was especially impressed with Miller’s edge and toughness. She finished with eight physical rebounds, fighting for each one.
“There was a loose ball early in the game that was either our ball or their ball, and Tessa made sure it was our ball,” Brooks said. “Those kinds of plays set the tone, rhythm and tempo for the rest of the game. They elevate the play and effort level of everyone on the floor.”
With the game already decided by the fourth quarter, Brooks allowed for freshman guards Brooke Highmark and Kate Hollifield and sophomore forward Kendal Cheesman, who transferred from Vanderbilt University, to gain valuable playing time.
Hollifield was unable to find the net on any of her five shots in her 13 minutes of action.
Highmark scored seven points in 16 total minutes while Cheesman added nine points with a career-high 14 rebounds.
“Anytime they get to play on the floor is beneficial. I think everyone saw what they can bring when they get an opportunity,” Brooks said. “I think those three players have been really good in stretches and in practice, and it was really cool to see that happen on the floor in the game.”
While the blowout win may be worth celebrating, Brooks knows the team still has room to grow.
“Right now, our sole purpose and focus is to prepare ourselves with a great off day tomorrow and to have great practice on Tuesday,” Brooks said. “The reality of who we are right now is we are a team that needs to get better. And that’s what our focus is on.”
Improving their record to 9-10 overall, the Bruins are now on a two-game winning streak. Belmont will look to transfer its dominance to Terre Haute, Indiana when it travels to Indiana State University on Friday. This article was written by Ty Wellemeyer.