NASHVILLE, Tenn.- The Belmont University women's basketball team (17-5, 9-0) held on to win its 11th straight game as it earned a 70-60 victory over Tennessee State (8-11, 3-6) Saturday night at the Gentry Center.
Darby Maggard (Larwill, Ind.) led the way scoring 14 points and dishing out nine assists. Three other Bruins finished the night in double figures as Lauren Thompson (Franklin, Tenn.) scored 13 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field while Jenny Roy (Brentwood, Tenn.) scored 12 on perfect 5-of-5 shooting. Kylee Smith (Alpharetta, Ga.) scored 10 points to round out Belmont's double digit scorers.
The Bruins assisted on 21 of their 24 made field goals and outrebounded TSU, 36-29. The Bruins shot 24-of-51 (47.1%) from the field while holding TSU to just 22-of-56 (39.3%) shooting.
"We really stress sharing and moving the ball. Often times when we're dribbling a lot we're not getting the assists and movement we want. We did a terrific job of moving the ball tonight, getting out and running and getting fast break points. We did a really good job of scoring in the paint too. That's another part of that just keeping our spacing, keeping the floor spread and making the extra pass to get the best available shot for us. That's when we were at our best tonight," said Head Coach Cameron Newbauer after the game.
Thompson finished just shy of a double double as she finished with nine rebounds and Maggard was just an assist shy.
Senior Jayda Johnson paced the Lady Tigers with 16 points.
A pivotal second quarter in which the Bruins outscored the Lady Tigers, 19-7 proved to be the difference.
Belmont's 11-straight wins are its most since turning Division I and second most-ever and Belmont's 9-0 start to league play is its best since the 2006-07 season when it started Atlantic Sun with the same mark.
"Playing at TSU, it's an awesome atmosphere, they've got a great band, it's loud and it's fun. To be able to come in here and grind it out, keep our heads down and keep moving on is something I'm really proud of our team for. It shows that we're growing every single day and that each day we take the floor we're accepting a challenge," said Maggard following the game.
Belmont led 16-13 after the first quarter, shooting 7-of-13 in the opening act. The Bruins jumped out to a 16-7 lead midway through, but saw Tennessee State conclude the frame on a 6-0 scoring run including a last second jumper from Johnson.
The Bruins came out with a renewed since of urgency in the second quarter, scoring the quarter's first seven points. Belmont outscored 19-7 TSU overall in the frame and limited the Lady Tigers to just 3-of-12 shooting. The story of the second was the hot shooting of Maggard who poured in 11 points in the frame after being held scoreless in the first quarter. The sophomore floor general connected on 4-of-7 shots in the period, including three 3-pointers. The ball moved crisply on the offensive end all half for Belmont as the Bruins assisted on 13 of their 14 made field goals. The Bruins finished the half an even 50% from the floor while holding TSU to 32% shooting. Roy played well in the game's first 20 minutes, scoring seven points and hauling in five rebounds at the break.
When asked about the second quarter Maggard explained that tempo was the key factor, "I think we really controlled the tempo. I thought we pushed the ball in transition and got good looks and we we're hitting them. When we didn't have the quick looks I thought we brought it out and executed our plays really well."
Belmont carried its momentum into the third quarter as it continued to build on its lead. The Bruins led by as many 20 in the quarter but Tennessee State fought right back and closed the quarter out strong to trim the deficit to just 55-43 heading into the fourth. The Lady Tigers outscored Belmont 23-20 and scored the final four points in the stanza.
TSU would narrow the gap to single digits in the fourth quarter, outscoring Belmont 17-15, but the Bruins held on to win their fourth-straight over the Lady Tigers.
Sierra Jones (Huntsville, Ala.) scored nine points and knocked a slew of crucial free throws late in the fourth.
"Going forward we need to focus on our resilience and perseverance throughout the course of the game to just keep doing the little things consistently. We had some lapses tonight. If we can continue to get stronger and a little tougher, I think we can do something special so that's kind of what we're focused on is the toughness piece. That's mentally and physically throughout the course of 40 minutes of a game," added Newbauer.
Including last season's run through the OVC Tournament, Belmont is 25-1 in its last 26 OVC games and has won 15-straight.
The Bruins return to game action Wednesday, Feb. 1 when they host SIUE at 7 p.m. Central time from the Curb Event Center.