NASHVILLE, Tenn.- After opening its conference season Thursday with a win at Eastern Illinois, the Belmont University women's basketball team (9-5) resumes its OVC slate of games Saturday, Dec. 31 when it travels to Austin Peay (6-8) for a Noon Central time tilt in Clarksville.
"We have another tough road game at Austin Peay tomorrow. We rose to the challenge against Eastern Illinois on Thursday night and look forward to seeing how we can build from that game for Saturday. Austin Peay poses a great threat with a big time post player who can put a number of points on the board. We will need a focused team effort and must be ready to compete for 40 minutes tomorrow," said Belmont Head Coach Cameron Newbauer.
Paced by Jenny Roy's (Brentwood, Tenn.) first career double double, the Bruins claimed a 77-58 victory over the Eastern Illinois Panthers in their 2016-17 conference lidlifter. Roy was one of three Bruins to finish with 15 points and she also brought in 11 rebounds and dished out five assists. Darby Maggard (Larwill, Ind.) and Lauren Thompson (Franklin, Tenn.) each finished the game with 15 points scored as the guard Maggard connected on five three-pointers and the postplayer Thompson finished with five made field goals and five made free throws. The Bruins moved the ball well all night, assisting on nearly 70% of their made field goals and also held an edge in rebounding at 41-28. Belmont led for over 38 minutes and led by as many as 22 in their conference-opening win in Charleston, Ill. For the season, Maggard, Sally McCabe (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) and Kylee Smith (Alpharetta, Ga.) all average double digits while Thompson is just shy at 9.9 points per game. McCabe leads the team with 7.5 rebounds per game while Roy is second at 6.1.
Austin Peay, losers of the three-straight entering the contest, opened its 2016-17 OVC season at home against Morehead State and fell by a score of 81-71 on Thursday, Dec. 29. After trailing by as many as 25 against the Eagles, the Governors stormed back in the fourth quarter, outscoring their opponent 29-15, but the late rally wouldn't be enough as they opened conference play with a loss. Morehead State features the league's best overall record at 11-3. Senior center Tearra Banks paced the Govs with 15 points and 12 boards and picked up her 13th career double double. Banks, the Louisville native, leads the team with 16.1 points per game and 8.5 rebounds. Banks was named OVC Player of the Week on Dec. 6 after averaging 20 points per game in APSU's games against East Tennessee and Western Kentucky. Banks ranks third in the conference in scoring and second in rebounding.
Saturday features two of the league's best rebounding units as the Bruins lead the OVC with a +11.8 rebounding margin and Austin Peay is second at +4.0. In addition, both squads rank within the top 40 nationally in total rebounds.
The game Saturday marks the 26th meeting all time between the Bruins and Govs. Belmont holds an 18-7 edge entering the contest, which includes last season's 88-82 victory on Jan. 16, 2016 in Nashville. Maggard, Smith and McCabe all scored over 20 points as the Bruins held on for a narrow victory in a game that was tight throughout. Then senior Tiasha Gray scored a game-high 38 points for the Governors, but it was the Bruins who claimed the victory and improved to 8-0 at the Curb Event Center.
After squaring off with Austin Peay, Belmont will next compete on Thursday, Jan. 5 when it welcomes defending regular season champion UT Martin for a special 4 p.m. tip at the Curb Event Center. Thursday's game will be broadcast live on ESPNU and will be the first nationally televised women's basketball game from the Curb.