NASHVILLE, Tenn.- The Belmont University women's basketball team (13-5, 5-0 OVC) travels to Morehead State (14-4, 4-1 OVC) Saturday for a showdown between the league's top two teams at Johnson Arena. Tip off is slated for 4:30 p.m. Central time and the OVC Digital Network will carry the video broadcast while Dr. Rich Tiner will have the call on the Bruins Sports Network.
"Saturday will be a great challenge for us. Morehead State is having a very good year as they are one of the best defensive and rebounding teams in the OVC. They are filled with a number of players who can score in a multitude of ways. Coach Todd has done a wonderful job building his program and they play very hard. I'm excited to see how our team responds to this challenge of playing a good team on the road," said Head Coach Cameron Newbauer.
The Bruins, winners of seven-straight games, continued their unblemished start to conference play this past Wednesday, knocking off Eastern Kentucky 74-58 at the Curb Event Center. In what was just a five point game with the 5:30 left in the fourth quarter, Belmont closed the game on a 14-4 run to knock off the Colonels in a rematch of last season's OVC Tournament Championship game. Darby Maggard (Larwill, Ind.) scored 15 points, dished out eight assists and had zero turnovers to pace the Belmont offense. Jenny Roy (Brentwood, Tenn.) registered 11 points and eight rebounds and Sally McCabe (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) stuffed the stat sheet yet again, recording eight points, eight rebounds and six blocks.
Morehead State enters the contest 14-4 overall including a 4-1 mark in league play. The Eagles saw their nine-game winning streak snapped in their most recent action, falling at Tennessee State, 69-66. Morehead State trailed by 10 with 40 seconds to play but mounted a late rally to earn a chance to tie the game with four seconds left. Brianna McQueen's floater in the lane rattled out and the Tigers added a free throw on the ensuing possession to hand the Eagles their first loss in conference play. The Preseason All-OVC selection McQueen leads the Eagles offensively averaging 11.9 points and 3.8 assists. Eriel McKee's 8.0 rebounds per game lead the team and rank second in the OVC. The Eagles allow 62.3 points per game and hold teams to .351 shooting from the field which are both league bests. MSU also leads the conference with 115 blocked shots which ranks it sixth nationally.
Saturday's game features the league's second-highest scoring offense in Belmont (75.1) and the league's best defense in Morehead State (62.3). Both teams have a scoring margin of +9.3 which is the best mark in the league. Two of the best shot blockers in the nation will also be on display as MSU's Brooke Todd ranks fifth nationally with 55 blocks and Belmont's McCabe ranks seventh with 51 swats. In addition, Belmont and Morehead State make up two of the nation's best rebounding teams with Belmont ranking sixth nationally with 771 and Morehead State ranking seventh with 770.
Belmont holds a 9-3 mark against Morehead State in terms of the all-time series. The teams last met on Feb. 13, 2015 when after defeating Morehead State at home just 10 days before, the Bruins bounced the Eagles 89-74 at Johnson Arena behind a career-high 18 points from Lauren Thompson (Franklin, Tenn.). It was the Bruins' 10th-straight victory which tied the program's longest winning streak in the Division I era set back in 2006-07.
BU has won seven of eight against Morehead State since joining the OVC back in 2012-13; its lone loss during that span came at Johnson Arena in February of 2015 after it shot just 31% from the field.
Including last season's run through the OVC Tournament, Belmont is 20-1 in its last 21 OVC games. Its last loss came at UT Martin (79-81) on Feb. 15, 2016.
As of Jan. 11, Maggard is one of only two players in all of Division I ranked top 15 in three-pointers made (59, 5th) and three-point percentage (46.8%, 13th). Maggard's 90 assists also rank her top 30 nationally.
After averaging 15.5 points and 10.0 rebounds per game last week in a pair of Belmont victories, McCabe was named the Tennessee Sports Writers Association Women's Basketball Player of the Week, the organization announced Tuesday afternoon.
Upperclassmen McCabe, Thompson and Frankie Joubran (Goodrich, Mich.) have all eclipsed the 800 career point mark this season. Joubran was the most recent one to do so, earning the achievement this past Wednesday against Eastern Kentucky.
After squaring off with Morehead State, the Bruins return to action Wednesday, Jan. 18 when they travel to Jacksonville State for a 7 p.m. CT tilt with the Gamecocks.
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