NASHVILLE, Tenn.- The Belmont University women's basketball team (16-5, 8-0) won its 10th-straight game Saturday afternoon as it defeated Tennessee Tech (7-13, 4-3) 89-76 at the Curb Event Center. Belmont's 89 points tied for the fifth-most in a women's game in the arena's history.
Kylee Smith (Alpharetta, Ga.) led the Bruins with 21 points and a career-high eight assists. Sally McCabe (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) finished with her 14th career double double, totaling 18 points and 10 rebounds along with five blocks. Darby Maggard (Larwill, Ind.) scored 15 for the Bruins, knocking down five three-pointers.
Yaktavia Hickson paced Tennessee Tech with a career-high 37 points.
"We played with some aggression and did a good job of letting things come to us by attacking things we focused on. And then we knocked down shots. Anytime you can see the ball go in early, that just gives you confidence for the rest of the game. Playing here at home, I think we always shoot with pretty good confidence. I was proud of our team in that regard, and how much we shared the ball," said Belmont Head Coach Cameron Newbauer.
Scoring over 80 points for the eighth time this season, Belmont put forth one of its best offensive efforts of the season shooting a blistering 34-of-56 (60.7%) from the field to go with 11-of-19 (57.9%) shooting from beyond the arc. Saturday marked the eighth time this season the Bruins knocked down at least 10 three's.
The Bruins finished with 24 assists as a team, registering at least 20 for the fourth time this season.
"Kylee played great. She's been playing very well lately and her first half tonight was very important to our team to get us going. I remember in the first quarter it really seemed like she was the only one scoring. She's done a terrific job for us," added Newbauer.
Tennessee Tech would fight back in the second half to trim the Bruin lead to as low as 10 in the third quarter, but a big second quarter proved to be the difference in Belmont's victory. After leading 21-18 with the first quarter in the books, BU connected on 11-of-16 shots in the second and outscored TTU, 28-13 to take a commanding lead into the half.
Senior Frankie Joubran (Goodrich, Mich.) racked up 10 rebounds to go with six points in 17 minutes off the bench. After being outrebounded for just the sixth time all season this past Wednesday at Jacksonville State, the Bruins outrebounded Tennessee Tech 41-25.
Belmont led Tennessee Tech, 21-18 after the first quarter as Smith provided a spark from the jump, scoring 10 points in just the first 10 minutes. The first quarter saw six ties as the teams battled back and forth from the onset. The Bruins connected on nine of their first 16 shots to open the game.
In the second quarter, the momentum began to shift in favor of the Bruins. BU opened the second quarter on an 11-2 run and continued to build on its advantage throughout the period. The Bruins connected on 11 of their 16 shots in the second which included four treys. At the break, Smith had surpassed her season averages in points, scoring a game-high 15, and assists, dishing out a game-high five helpers. McCabe was also in double figures by the intermission, chipping in with 10 points to go with five boards. For the half the Bruins shot 20-of-32 (62.5%) from the floor and 7-of-12 (58.3%) from long distance, and led TTU 49-31. After just 54 points total in Wednesday's game at Jacksonville State, Belmont had 49 at half time on Saturday.
"We were a little hesitant at the start and then we played a little more aggressively. I think a couple people hit some shots and then that kind of turned it for us. We just kept it going for the rest of the game. Tennessee Tech did a good job of constantly attacking us all night and keeping us on our heels. I'm just happy to come out with a win tonight here at home," said Newbauer.
Saturday marked the seventh time this season the Bruins scored over 40 points in a first half.
In the third Tennessee Tech trimmed the Bruin lead to 10 points at 53-43 with under five minutes to play, fueled by an 8-0 scoring run. 10 points is as close as the Golden Eagles would get as Belmont would counter to lead by as many as 18 late in quarter. Joubran was especially effective, scoring six points and snagging five rebounds. The Golden Eagles scored the final four points of the frame to trim the deficit to 70-56 heading into the final period, after outscoring Belmont 25-21.
The fourth quarter saw the teams play to a 19-19 score. Maggard scored six points down the stretch on a pair of three-pointers to help provide the Bruins with some breathing room halfway through the period. Hickson was a force in the fourth for TTU, scoring 11 points on the frame on a perfect 3-for-3 shooting from the field.
Belmont picked up its 10th-straight victory and its 23rd win in their last 24 OVC games including last season's conference tournament.
Over its past 21 home games, Belmont is 20-1 at the Curb Event Center and improves to 31-6 in conference home games since joining the OVC in 2012-13.
Belmont is now 8-0 in league play for the first time since the 2006-07 season when it started 9-0 in Atlantic Sun competition.
BU has now won seven-straight in the series vs. Tennessee Tech.
BU resumes conference play Saturday, Jan. 28 when it travels to Tennessee State. Tip off is slated for 5:30 p.m. Central time from the Gentry Center.