The women’s basketball team beat the visiting Murray State Racers 70-53 on Thursday to kickoff a four-game home stand. Senior Ellie Harmeyer picked up her 16th double-double with 21 points and 14 rebounds.
Thursday’s game featured the annual Best Field Trip Ever, welcoming in hundreds of elementary school children from local schools to watch the women’s team.
“When we have these field trip days, these kids games, that could be the first time some of these kids, specifically young women, could see a female college basketball player play in real life,” Harmeyer said of Thursday’s festivities.
“We’re always talking about how much of an impact that can make. And having it be a National Women’s Sports Day this past week, I think that’s very impactful for us.”
The crowd made its investment in the game clear from the tip, as less than 20 seconds into the game, Harmeyer knocked down a three from the top of the key to raucous applause from the visiting students.
The Racers hung with the Bruins early, essentially trading baskets for the first five minutes. Murray State took a 12-10 lead before the first media timeout. Half of the Bruins’ points before the timeout came from Kinney, who was working as a scorer and facilitator early.
“We were a little bit on our heels defensively,” Coach Bart Brooks said of the team’s inability to pull away early. “I thought they got the shots that they wanted for the most part early and we didn’t do a good enough job of taking them out of their rhythm. And once we started to do that defensively that helped us on the offensive end, and we were able to get a little separation.”
As time wound down in the opening quarter, Harmeyer scored for the first time since her basket to open the game, driving the lane to hit a layup as the final seconds ticked away.
Her score gave the Bruins their first lead in several minutes, as Belmont went up 18-17 after 10 minutes of play.
The Bruins turned their first defensive opportunity of the second quarter into a turnover, which they converted on the offensive end with an Ellie Harmeyer scoop shot.
Maura Muensterman knocked down threes on two of the Bruins’ next three possessions, and the Bruins opened up a 30-22 lead over the Racers by the five-minute mark in the second quarter. Unlucky bounces off the rim and careless turnovers by Murray State helped Belmont turn a slight deficit into a sizable lead.
Following a timeout midway through the second quarter, the Racers managed points on a pair of free throws, but Harmeyer continued her dominance in the paint with a 3-point play. Conley Chinn got into the points column of the box score for the first time a moment later, hitting a three and following it with a fast break layup one possession later.
Madison Treece was the next Bruin to register on the scoreboard, as she hit her first bucket with two minutes left in the half. That would be the last time Belmont scored in the first half, as they took a 40-27 lead into halftime.
Both teams traded baskets for the first few minutes of the second half. Kiki Britzmann came into the game after only playing five first-half minutes and hit her first basket of the game to put the Bruins up 46-34 with 4:36 to go in the third quarter.
As the final minutes of the quarter ticked away, Jamilyn Kinney hit a three to reclaim a 13-point lead, and Ellie Harmeyer grabbed her tenth rebound to ensure yet another double-double on her senior year resume.
After a relatively low-scoring third quarter, both teams managed points near the end, and the two squads headed to the final frame with the Bruins leading 53-41.
The early minutes of the first quarter had a slower pace as far as scoring. When Belmont Coach Brooks called timeout with 5:33 remaining, the Racers had outscored the Bruins 6-4 in the quarter.
Belmont broke the 60-point threshold when Maddie Cook drove to the basket and scored her second basket of the game. Even with a 14-point lead with just over a minute to go, the Bruins were active on offense — and Jamilyn Kinney knocked down her third three-pointer of the day.
Coach Brooks brought the substitutes in with under a minute to play, and the Bruins closed out the game to seal a 70-53 win.
Harmeyer’s 21 points and 14 rebounds led the team in both categories, and her plus-minus rating of 14 was topped only by Jamilyn Kinney, who netted the Bruins a rating of 16. Harmeyer gave credit to her teammates for once again helping her fill the stat sheet.
“Honestly, my team really gave me the ball in places that I can do good things with it,” Harmeyer said. “They know what my strengths are, and they play to my strengths. They do a really good job with that. They really are the ones boxing out a lot of the time, and I just go and get the rebounds, honestly. So all the credit’s to my team.”
Brooks was pleased with the effort his team brought to a game that was important for both on-the-court performance and off-the-court role modeling.
“When they watch us play, they need to see joy and passion about sports,” Brooks said. “Just to have these young people, their energy, here, you know, we owe it to them to provide some energy of our own.”
On Saturday, the Bruins will face an Austin Peay team they beat just two weeks ago.
Article written by Evan Dorian. Photos by Tina James and Madison Bowen.