Explosive First Half Propels Women's Basketball to Victory at North Florida
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Belmont women's basketball team (3-11, 2-1 A-Sun) used fiery shooting throughout the first half to handily defeat North Florida (4-9, 1-1 A-Sun) on Monday evening. The Bruins knocked off the Ospreys, 54-37, snapping a five-game skid and improving the team to 2-1 in Atlantic Sun play.
The Bruins opened first stanza on fire, firing at a 66 percent clip in the first four minutes with a triple coming from freshman Katie Carroll (Lilburn, Ga.) and baskets from senior Haley Nelson (Scottsboro, Ala.) and junior Alyssa Visbeen (Franklin, Tenn.), putting them up 7-0 and forcing UNF to burn a timeout. UNF finally got on the board with a free-throw a minute later but sophomore Molly Ernst (Louisville, Ky.) drilled her first three pointer of the night from the top of the arc to expand BU's lead to nine, 10-1, with 14:51 on the clock.
UNF hustled to close the gap with six consecutive points but the Bruins composed themselves and turned on the afterburners again. Over a span of three and a half minutes, BU exploded offensively with a 9-0 run with shots coming from Ernst, Visbeen, and Nelson to expand its lead to 16 points, 25-9, by the 7:37 mark. The Bruins would grab their largest lead of the half, 18, twice behind treys by freshman Amara Mayers (Harvest, Ala.) and senior Cacy Burtnett (Cleveland, Tenn.) by the four and a half minute mark.
The Ospreys attempted to surge again, quickly tallying five points to cut Belmont's lead down to 13 in the final two minutes of the half. However, freshman Torie Vaught (Maryville, Tenn.) drove in the paint for her first points of the day and classmate Adrienne Tarrence (Bowling Green, Ky.) netted a lay-up with six seconds remaining to allow BU to take a 37-20 lead into the locker room.
The Ospreys hoped to open the second half in the same manner BU opened the first but were only able to connect on two of their first 10 shots. The Bruins, on the other hand, played a much more settled version of their first half selves and pulled away by 20 points, 42-22, behind Ernst's fourth three pointer of the contest with 16:55 remaining in regulation.
North Florida attempted to gain ground from the free-throw line, netting six, but BU continued to hold steady as the Ospreys could only trim the Belmont lead down to 15 points, 42-27, three minutes later. Belmont turned up the defensive heat down the stretch to continue to keep the contest firmly in its grasp. UNF surged once more in the final four minutes but would only inch as close as 16 before the Bruins clamped down for good, taking the game 54-37.
UNF shot 24.1 percent from the floor, an ice cold 8.4 percent from three-point range, and 52.6 percent from the free-throw line. The Ospreys held the advantage in rebounds, 42-31, and steals, 9-5.
Fabiola Josil led North Florida with nine points. Larkira Jones pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds.
Belmont shot 44.7 percent from the hardwood and 41.7 percent from behind the three-point arc, the second-best performances of the season in both categories. The team also shot 50 percent from the charity stripe.
Ernst led the Bruins with a game-high 17 points. Nelson notched her fifth double-double of the season with 14 points and a team-high 10 rebounds. Tarrence notched the lone block of the contest.
Belmont returns to action on Wednesday with a matchup at Jacksonville. Game time is set for 4 p.m. CT. The contest can be heard live via the internet on the Bruin Sports Network and seen on ASun.TV. Live stats and a Twitter feed (@BelmontWBB) will also be available.