Falling to Georgia Tech at the Gulf Coast Showcase on Nov. 27, Belmont women’s basketball was handed a rematch at the Curb Event Center on Sunday.
After a shaky first half, the Bruins found their footing in the second but were ultimately outrebounded 49-37 to give the Yellow Jackets the edge.
Belmont lost 55-59.
“Credit to Georgia Tech, they had a long week of travel,” head coach Bart Brooks said. “And then they came here and got a tough road win, so I thought their players and their team and coaches did a better job of getting their team ready to play when the game started.”
The Bruins found themselves trailing early due to missed opportunities on the offensive end. On the other side, Georgia Tech guard Cameron Swartz shined, scoring eight points in the first quarter to contribute to the Yellow Jacket lead.
After quarter one, Georgia Tech led 16-7.
“For whatever reason, we just weren’t in a very good place. We were just out of sync with everything. We can’t think we’re going to beat a really good team and not play better out of the gates,” Brooks said.
The Bruins continued to struggle early the second as Swartz was seemingly unstoppable. With 3:21 remaining in the half, the Bruins trailed 24-11.
But after a pair of downed free throws from junior guard Destinee Wells, Belmont eyed a comeback.
From there, sophomore forward Tessa Miller picked up a key defensive rebound allowing for junior guard Tuti Jones to drain a three-pointer.
Not wasting any time, freshman guard Kate Hollifield stole the ball to set up another three for senior guard Nikki Baird.
After the shot from Baird, the Bruins were within five.
But the Yellow Jackets continued pressing.
Ending the first half with a basket and a three from Swartz, Georgia Tech led 31-21.
Swartz finished the half with 19 points.
“If someone has 19 in a half, you probably need to make an adjustment,” Brooks said.
And adjustments were made in the second half as Belmont held Swartz scoreless.
“Once we were more locked in and executing our plan, I thought we did a lot better in the second half,” Brooks said.
Georgia Tech led for the entire third quarter, but the Bruins kept the game within 10 in a free throw heavy quarter.
Building momentum in the fourth, Belmont tied the game 41-41 after a free throw from Wells 30 seconds into the quarter.
From there, the game was a battle as both sides went on runs.
Taking over the game for Georgia Tech, guard Tonie Morgan was able to drive to the rim for several easy baskets.
But with the score tied at 50 with just under six minutes remaining, it was still anyone’s game.
At that point, Yellow Jacket center Nerea Hermosa knocked in a layup to make the score 52-50.
But after Jones got the defensive rebound on Georgia Tech’s next possession, junior forward Madison Bartley splashed in a three, giving Belmont its first lead of the game.
After a made free throw from Morgan and a layup from forward Kayla Blackshear, Georgia Tech reclaimed its lead with three minutes remaining.
Morgan and the Yellow Jackets continued to score, making it difficult for the Bruins to come back.
But with just under a minute left, Jones made a layup to narrow Georgia Tech’s lead to three.
Belmont had the opportunity to score but were unable to execute as guard Bianca Jackson downed one of her free throws with 13 seconds left, essentially clinching the win for Georgia Tech.
After many difficult games in its non-conference schedule, Belmont now sits with an overall 2-6 record.
The Bruins will head down the boulevard to face Lipscomb University on Tuesday night.
“We’re going to put our heads down and keep working, keep fighting and keep trying to figure out a way to get it done and that’s the mindset, that’s our approach,” Brooks said. “And obviously, of the six losses, we’ve felt like we had the chance to win four of those games and for whatever reason, we haven’t finished. That’s something that’s got to get flipped.” This article was written by A.J. Wuest