NASHVILLE, Tenn.- After two-straight games away from home, the Belmont University women's basketball team (15-5, 7-0) returns to the Curb Event Center Saturday, Jan. 21 when it hosts Tennessee Tech (7-12, 4-2) in an Ohio Valley Conference battle. Tip off is slated for 1 p.m. Central time and the broadcast will be carried live on the OVC Digital Network.
"We're excited to be back home playing in front our home crowd this weekend after a couple of road games last week. Coach Rosamond has done a great job with Tennessee Tech in her first season. They do a very good job of controlling the tempo on both sides of the ball and are a team that will compete for 40 minutes no matter the score. Our team is looking forward to competing in the Curb this weekend in front of a great crowd," said Belmont Head Coach Cameron Newbauer.
The Bruins, winners of nine-straight and 13 of their past 14, grinded their way to a 54-53 victory this past Wednesday at Jacksonville State. Despite trailing for nearly 30 minutes and by as many as seven in the fourth quarter, Belmont prevailed with its ninth victory on the road this season. Kylee Smith (Alpharetta, Ga.) scored the team's final four points including the eventual game-winning tally with 11 seconds left. Lauren Thompson (Franklin, Tenn.) also finished in double figures in the hardfought victory over the Gamecocks.
TTU enters the matchup 7-12 overall but boasts a 4-2 mark in league play in year one of the Rosamond era. Rosamond spent 19 seasons at nearby Vanderbilt first as a player and later as an assistant coach. After opening the OVC season with a win on the road at SEMO, the Golden Eagles fell in back to back games to SIUE and Austin Peay, respectively. Since the consecutive losses, TTU has now won three-straight with home wins over Murray State, Jacksonvillle State and Tennessee State. Junior Yaktavia "Shug" Hickson is TTU's primary option offensively as the guard pours in 16.0 points per game which ranks her as one of the top five scorers in the league. Senior Treyvonna Brooks also averages double figures at 10.6 per contest and hauls in a team-best 6.9 boards per game. TTU scores a league-low 61.6 points per game, but ranks fourth among OVC teams allowing just 65.6. The Golden Eagles rank top five in the conference in both blocked shots and steals.
Belmont ranks second in the OVC scoring (74.8) and top 50 nationally and leads the league in field goal percentage at .435. In addition, BU is ranked within the top 50 nationally in 14 different statistical categories as of Jan. 19, the Bruins are top 30 in rebounds, blocked shots, assists, three-pointers made, free throws made, assist to turnover ratio and rebound margin.
Smith leads the Bruins in scoring at 14.0 points per game and in her past four, she's scoring nearly 18. Smith has also dished out the second most assists on the team with 62. Darby Maggard (Larwill, Ind.) continues her impressive sophomore campaign, scoring 13.7 points per game to go with a team-best 5.1 assists. Maggard, the second year floor general, has a top 40 assist to turnover ratio all while shooting an outstanding .463 from beyond the arc and .484 overall. Maggard leads the conference in assist to turnover ratio, three-pointers made and three-point percentage, and ranks second in assists and top 15 in scoring. Junior postplayer Sally McCabe (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) rounds out the Bruins' trio of double-digit scorers, checking in at 11.7 points per game to go with her team-best 7.5 rebounds. McCabe ranks top five in the league in rebounding and leads the OVC with 61 blocked shots. The reigning OVC Defensive Player of the Year ranks fifth in the nation in blocks and over her last five games alone she has swatted 27 shots. In conference play Jenny Roy (Brentwood, Tenn.) has really stepped things up. In seven games she is averaging 12.1 points, 8.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists. After just nine double figure scoring games last season and one in the first 13 games this season, Roy has finished in double figures in five of the past seven games. Thompson has been a steady contributor for the Bruins, chipping in with 9.5 points and 5.4 boards per contest. The senior has registered 10 double figure scoring games so far this season and Morehead State this past Saturday she blocked a career-high seven shots.
Belmont and Tennessee Tech have met 46 times over the years, with the Golden Eagles holding a 26-20 advantage. The Bruins have won six-straight in the series though, including a pair of victories last season, and their last loss against TTU came back in the 2012-13 OVC Tournament.
All students are encouraged to wear red as part of the Code Red at the Curb Event Center. The festivities begin before the men's game (11 a.m.) with the Brunch with the Bruins Tailgate from 9:30-10:30am in the Beaman. There will be Chick-Fil-A chicken minis for the first 750 fans and red foam fingers, red t-shirts, red phone wallets and more.
Belmont's 15-5 start is its best start through 20 games since the 2006-07 campaign when it began 16-4 and eventually qualified for its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance.
After tangling with Tennessee Tech, Belmont will break until Jan. 28 when it makes the short trip over to Tennessee State.
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