Second Half Flurry Holds Off Women's Basketball in Battle of the Boulevard
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Another second half rally falls just short on the road as the Belmont women's basketball team (7-13, 4-7 A-Sun) falls at rival Lipscomb (8-12, 5-6 A-Sun) on Thursday night. The Bruins were held off, 73-59 and split the annual Battle of the Boulevard series for the third consecutive year.
The Bruins opened the contest taking complete advantage of Lipscomb's lack of offensive rhythm. Senior Tereva Moore (Memphis, Tenn.) netted the first points of the contest from the charity stripe before junior Cacy Burtnett (Cleveland, Tenn.) followed with a jumper from the left elbow. BU pulled away by five, 7-2, by the 18 minute mark after a triple from freshman Molly Ernst (Louisville, Ky.) from the left side of the arc. The Bruins continued to hold off the Lady Bisons and take advantage of their spotty shooting, maintaining a six-point advantage, 12-6, through the midpoint of the half.
The cold shooting that plagued the Lady Bisons early began rubbing off on the Bruins as they slipped into a drought that lasted more than six minutes. LU capitalized, going on a 12-0 run to go up, 27-15, with 3:21 left on the clock before the teams headed to the locker rooms. Finally, a jumper just inside the arc by Ernst shattered the ice around the Bruins' rim barely one minute later. BU used the clock to its advantage in the final 90 seconds, looking to trim the Lady Bisons' lead significantly before the break. Senior Whitney Seals (Raceland, Ky.) took a backdoor slip in the paint to add two more before classmate Shaunda Strayhorn (Dyersburg, Tenn.) drilled a three pointer with three seconds remaining to take a six point deficit, 28-22, into the locker room.
After the break, the Bruins saw back-to-back triples from Ernst and senior Rachel Swisher (Franklin, Ky.) to spark a rally to close the gap. Jenna Bartsokas netted 10 of the Lady Bisons' first 14 points of the second half but Belmont continued to battle back. Swisher was fouled on an attempt behind the arc and went on the net all three at the stripe and sophomore Alyssa Visbeen (Franklin, Tenn.) followed with a lay-up to cut the LU lead to six by the 13 minute mark. Two minutes later, the Bruins had hustled to make it just a three-point differential, 47-44.
Belmont surged again, this time behind a pair of free throws by Moore before Lipscomb got hot from behind the arc. The Lady Bisons would drain a flurry of shots just inside the three point line to pull away from BU around the five minute mark. With just 2:45 remaining in regulation, the Lady Bisons found themselves ahead by 18, 69-51. The Bruins dug in for one more rally using back-to-back triples by Ernst to spark an 8-0 run to close the half and move within 14, 73-49. Unfortunately, time was not on BU's side as Lipscomb held the ball for the final 30 seconds to take the contest by same score.
Lipscomb shot 43.5 percent from the floor, 33.3 percent from three-point range and 80 percent from the free-throw line. The Lady Bisons held the advantage in assists, 14-13, and steals, 12-6.
Bartsokas led LU in scoring with a game-high 25 points. Anna Bowers added 14 and Brittany Duerk rounded out the double digit scorers with 10 points. Leah McAlister led the team in rebound with a total of seven.
The Bruins shot 36.4 percent from the hardwood, 34.8 percent from behind the three-point arc and 78.6 percent from the charity stripe. Belmont held the advantage in rebounds, 41-33, and blocks, 4-3.
Belmont was led in scoring by Ernst, who netted 17 points. Visbeen added 12 points and Moore contributed eight points in the effort. Burtnett led the Bruins with a game-high eight rebounds. Strayhorn collected a game-high six assists and a team-high three steals.
Belmont returns to action on Saturday afternoon at the Curb Event Center. The Bruins host Stetson beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday's contest is also the team's Pink Zone game, raising awareness about breast cancer. Fans in attendance will receive free pink t-shirts and pom pons and breast cancer survivors will be honored at halftime. A portion of the day's ticket sales will be donated to the Nashville affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.