The women’s basketball team earned a No. 13 seed in the NCAA Tournament and will take on the University of South Carolina on Friday in Charlotte, North Carolina.
This is the Bruins’ fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance, which they earned by winning the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Championship.
Belmont is one of only two programs in the nation to win four straight NCAA Division I conference tournaments, along with the legendary women’s basketball program at University of Connecticut.
“We’re thrilled to be here, we’re thrilled that we’re in this tournament. There’s a lot of teams sitting at home right now. We’re not, we’re preparing to play,” said Belmont head coach Bart Brooks.
This season, Belmont capped off a stellar 23-6 regular season record by beating University of Tennessee Martin 59-50 in the OVC Tournament final. This earned the team an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
Though the Bruins have made it to the tournament four times before, they’ve never advanced past the first round. They’ll look to win an NCAA Tournament game for the first time in program history on Friday.
To do this, they’ll have to upset the No. 4 seeded South Carolina.
At the end of the regular season, South Carolina ranked second in the Southeastern Conference with a record of 21-8. This included wins against Clemson University and the University of Tennessee, two teams that beat Belmont during the regular season.
The Gamecocks, who were ranked 15th in the final Associated Press poll of the season, earned a two-round bye in the SEC Tournament, but then lost to University of Arkansas in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals.
“They’re really good, they’re really talented, but so is the group of women behind me. So we’re going to compete,” said Brooks.
The Bruins will head into the game with the leadership of NCAA Tournament veterans and seniors Darby Maggard and Jenny Roy.
The 2019 senior class is a special one because of the way they raised the bar for the program as a whole, Brooks said.
“When they got to Belmont, that was the goal of this program, to get to the NCAA Tournament. Now, every freshman class that comes into play for us, that’s the floor of this program. That’s the expectation,” Brooks said. “In four years, it’s incredible what they’ve done.”
If the Bruins win, they will play again on Sunday, taking on the winner of No. 5 Florida State University and No. 12 Bucknell University.
Friday’s game is set to tip off at 12:45 p.m. Central time and will be broadcast on ESPN2.
Photos by Colby Crosby.