NASHVILLE, Tenn.- The Belmont University women's basketball team (18-5, 10-0) won its 12th straight game Wednesday evening as it knocked off Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (9-14, 5-5), 94-67 at the Curb Event Center. Scoring at least 20 points for the sixth time this season, redshirt-junior Kylee Smith (Alpharetta, Ga.) led the way for Belmont with 25 points on 9-of-12 shooting from the floor.
After leading just 11-9 after the first quarter, the Bruins stretched their lead to as large as 32 points late in the game.
Belmont's 94 points scored were the fourth most in a women's game in Curb Event Center history.
Joining Smith in double figures was senior Lauren Thompson (Franklin, Tenn.) who had a season-high 17 points. The Bruins finished the game shooting 54.7% (35-of-64) from the field and knocked down nine three-pointers as a team.
Belmont assisted on 28 of its 35 made field goals and outrebounded SIUE 39-37 as it snapped the Cougars' four-game winning streak.
Newbauer said this when asked about his team's unselfish play, "It's just something we really try to stress with the team. We try to find the player with the hot hand by sharing it and looking for certain mismatches. Our players have done a great job here of just buying into that culture. It's making the extra pass, turning down the good shot for the great shot and I think we did a good job of that offensively."
Wednesday marked the 26th time in the Newbauer era that the Bruins registered at least 20 assists as they finished just one helper shy of their season high of 29. "I think we all have the we over me mindset and just putting that into play when we get on the court is a great feeling," said Smith after the game.
Freshman Maddie Wright (Chattanooga, Tenn.) tied her career high with 11 points.
Belmont improves to 26-1 in its last 27 OVC games including last season's conference tournament and has won 16-straight.
Over its past 22 home games, Belmont is 21-1 at the Curb Event Center. Belmont's 18-5 start is its best since the 2006-07 campaign.
Belmont clung to an 11-9 lead after the first quarter had expired as neither team managed to a find a flow offensively in the early going. Thompson had her fingerprints all over the first quarter, scoring seven points, grabbing two rebounds, blocking a shot, picking up a steal and taking a charge. Both squads shot below 30% in the stanza and after Belmont led 11-4, the Cougars finished the quarter on a 5-0 scoring run.
After getting off to a slow start in the first quarter, the Bruins put together an impressive shooting display in the second quarter, knocking down 10 of their 14 field goal attempts. Thompson led all scorers at the break with 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting. BU outscored the Cougars 28-12 in the second and ended the period on a 17-4 scoring run. The Bruins assisted on 12 of their 14 first half field goals and held a 21-20 edge in rebounding. Smith checked in with eight points at the intermission, knocking down a pair of triples in the second quarter.
"I don't think we played quite as aggressive as we wanted to be coming out in the first quarter, that was in part due to their defense and toughness. We really wanted to try to push the tempo a little bit and get them on their heels and be more aggressive attacking on the bounce, I think we did a good job of that. We struggled with their toughness and tenacity on the offensive glass at times, Donshell Beck gave us fits tonight. Overall I'm proud of our effort but there's somethings we need to tighten up offensively" added Newbauer.
BU outscored SIUE, 25-23 in the third quarter shooting 9-of-17 from the field. Belmont led by as many as 27 in the frame but a late scoring surge from SIUE trimmed the Belmont lead heading into the final act.
Belmont scored its most points of any quarter Wednesday night in the fourth, when it registered 30 points compared to SIUE's 23. Smith had the hot hand in the fourth, pouring in 14 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting from the floor.
Darby Maggard (Larwill, Ind.) scored nine points, dished out seven assists and recorded zero turnovers as she help steer the Bruins to their eighth-straight home win. Sally McCabe (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) put forth a nine point, seven rebound, four assist game while Jenny Roy (Brentwood, Tenn.) scored eight points and hauled in seven boards.
Donshel Beck led the Cougars with 22 points and 15 rebounds.
"They're (SIUE) a great team. Winning four in a row, definitely they had momentum coming in. We try to focus on us, if we try to do what we can it all just kind of plays out. They are a good team so this was a great win and having our fan base at home, there's nothing like it," said Smith.
Wednesday marked Coach Newbauer's 70th win.
10 different players scored for Belmont and six Bruins scored at least eight points. Redshirt-freshman Paris Lawson (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) tied a career high with five assists.
The Bruins return to action Saturday, Feb. 4 when they travel to Murray State for a 6 p.m. CT tilt with the Racers.