CHARLESTON, Ill.- The Belmont University women's basketball team improved to (9-5, 1-0) as it prevailed with a 77-58 win Thursday evening at Eastern Illinois (4-9, 0-1) in its 2016-17 conference debut. The Bruins have now won seven of their past eight games and improved to 6-3 on the road.
Sophomore Jenny Roy (Brentwood, Tenn.) had a great all-around game for the Bruins, recording her first double double in a Belmont uniform with a career-high 15 points and 11 rebounds. Roy also dished out five assists and recorded a steal, helping the Bruins open their conference season in the win column.
"Being our first conference game, we came through with a lot of energy and we know Belmont Basketball is best when we are moving the ball," said Roy.
Darby Maggard (Larwill, Ind.) finished with 15 points, all coming from three-point land. Senior Lauren Thompson (Franklin, Tenn.), scoring double figures for the ninth time this season, recorded 15 points as well. Finishing in double figures for the seventh-straight game, center Sally McCabe (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) registered 14 points. Kylee Smith (Alpharetta, Ga.) tied a career high with seven assists to go with six points.
Belmont improves to 3-0 when at least four players score in double figures and finished the game shooting 26-of-53 (49.1%) from the floor and 7-of-18 (38.9%) from beyond the arc. The Bruins won the rebounding battle, 41-28 and assisted on 18 of their 26 field goals.
"Everyone attacks the glass hard every possession, knowing that there is a good shot that one of us well come up with a board. It comes down to team defense. Everyone boxes out their girls, leaving gaps for me to attack the boards," added Roy.
Belmont led 19-13 after the first quarter, fueled by 7-of-12 shooting from the floor. The Bruins were effective from close range early on as 13 of their first 19 points were scored in the paint. Roy got off to a quick start, registering six first quarter scores including her 10th three-pointer of the season.
EIU opened the second quarter on a 5-0 run to trim the Bruin lead to just one at 19-18 early on in the frame. But after some back and forth action in the middle part of the quarter, Belmont managed to stretch its lead to 10 points heading into the intermission after a 5-0 surge to conclude the first half. After both teams were held scoreless for over two minutes, Sierra Jones (Huntsville, Ala.) knocked down all three free throws after she was fouled from distance with 1:23 remaining in the quarter. BU tightened things up defensively in the latter stages of quarter, holding the Panthers scoreless for the final 3:55. The Bruins connected on 13-of-25 from the floor in the first half and shot 8-of-10 from the charity stripe. Of the Bruins' 13 first half field goals, nine came via an assist. The junior McCabe led all scorers at the break with 10 points. Roy put together a solid all-around first 20 minutes, recording eight points and four assists.
After the score stood at 41-33 with 7:17 seconds remaining in the third quarter, Belmont would jump ahead with 12-2 run to carry a 53-35 lead heading into the period's media timeout. The host Panthers countered back by outscoring the Bruins 9-4 over the final four minutes of the quarter and the score stood at 57-44 heading into the final frame.
Belmont outscored the Panthers 20-14 over the final 10 minutes of play and reached its largest lead of the game, 22, with 1:13 remaining in the quarter. Thompson and Maggard combined to score 15 points together in the fourth quarter to help the Bruins pull away late in the final frame.
Brittin Boyer scored 14 points to lead a trio of double digits scorers for EIU.
Head Coach Cameron Newbauer improves to 2-2 in conference openers.
The Bruins face a quick turnaround as they continue conference play Saturday, Dec. 31 at Austin Peay.