NASHVILLE, Tenn.- The Belmont University women's basketball team (18-5, 10-0) returns to game action Saturday, Feb. 4 when it travels to Murray State (12-10, 4-5) for a 6 p.m. Central time tilt at the CFSB Center. The game will be streamed live on the OVC Digital Network and audiocast will be streamed live on the Bruins Sports Network with Dr. Rich Tiner on the call.
"We know we are up against one of the most athletic and versatile teams in our league Saturday at Murray. They are a team that can put a lot of points on the board very quickly with their ability to shoot the three so well. They have one of the best, if not the best player in the league in Ke'Shunan James who leads them in almost every category. They mix it up very well on defense and can really frustrate their opponents into some poor decisions. We look forward to the challenge that we will be facing and we know the kind of toughness we will need to play with. I think our ladies will be ready to compete," said Head Coach Cameron Newbauer.
Saturday features the top two scoring teams in the league in Belmont (76.1) and Murray State (74.0) and the top three-point shooting team in Belmont (.361) and the second best team in defending the three-point line in Murray State (.285). In addition both teams average over eight made three's a game which ranks them top three in the league, respectively.
Last time out the Bruins registered a 94-67 victory over SIUE Wednesday at the Curb Event Center. After holding a slim 11-9 lead following the conclusion of the first quarter, the Bruins outscored the Cougars 83-58 the rest of the way paced by a game-high 25 points from redshirt-junior Kylee Smith (Alpharetta, Ga.). Senior Lauren Thompson (Franklin, Tenn.) finished just shy of tieing her career high with 17 points while freshman Maddie Wright (Chattanooga, Tenn.) tied her career best with 11 points coming off the Bruin bench. Belmont finished the game shooting .547 from the floor and assisted on 28 of its 35 made field goals.
Belmont has 21 or more assists in four of its last five games and is averaging 22 per game over that span. The Bruins lead the league averaging 17.7 per game which ranks them 17th in all of NCAA Division I and their 407 total assists rank them 11th nationally.
Murray State enters the matchup with a 12-10 record and a 4-5 mark in league play. After opening the conference season winners of four of their first five, the Racers have fallen in four-straight. Three of those four losses occurred away from home, the most of recent of which was a 73-59 defeat at Morehead State on Wednesday. MSU shot just 29.4% in the setback. The Racers have been tough to beat at home this season as they sport a 7-2 record at the CFSB Center. Junior Ke'Shunan James, a Preseason All-OVC selection, leads the conference in scoring (19.5) and leads the Racers in assists (3.9). LeAsia Wright scores 15.0 points per game and the duo of James and Wright are the only teammates currently ranked in the top five in scoring in the OVC. Abria Gulledge also averages in double figures at 11.2 to go with her team-best 7.9 rebounds per game which is the second best clip in the league.
In addition to Murray State's prowess on offense, the Racers also rank second in the OVC averaging 9.2 thefts per game while the Bruins's 1.3 assist to turnover ratio is the league's top mark.
Saturday marks the 12th meeting all time between the Bruins and Racers with Belmont holding a 9-2 edge in those contests. The last time these teams met on Jan. 4, 2016, in the lone meeting between the Bruins and Racers last season, Belmont picked up a 87-61 win at the Curb Event Center. Smith led a group five double digit scorers with 23 and added six rebounds and five assists. Belmont held MSU's James, who entered the game leading the OVC in scoring at 21.1 points per game, to just seven points. Belmont has won the past five meetings with Murray State and has yet to lose to the Racers since joining the OVC in 2012-13.
After battling Murray State, the Bruins return home to host Jacksonville State on Wednesday, Feb. 8 for Ladies Night at the Curb Event Center.
Watch | Listen | Stats | Game Notes
- As of Feb. 1, Belmont's 10 road wins this season are second to just UCONN's 11. Only seven teams in all of NCAA Division I have at least nine road victories and Morehead State has the second most road wins in the OVC with just five.
- As of Feb. 1, Darby Maggard (Larwill, Ind.) is one of just two players in all of Division I ranked top 12 in three-point percentage (8th, 47.1%) and three-pointers made (11th, 73). The other is Player of the Year Candidate Kelsey Plum of Washington. Maggard has attempted 155 three's which is the most of anyone in the top eight in terms of percentage and the least amount in the top 11 of three's made. Maggard's 157 career three-pointers rank her ninth in program history already with less than two years under her belt.
- As of Feb. 1, Belmont is one of only two Division I programs to have both its men's and women's teams undefeated in conference play. (New Mexico St.)
- This week, Belmont checked in at No. 5 in the ESPNW and No. 23 in the College Sports Insider Mid Major Polls.
- Belmont is ranked within the top 50 in 20 different statistical categories as of Feb. 1, the Bruins are top 30 in scoring offense, rebounds, assists, three-pointers made, assist to turnover ratio and rebound margin.
- With BU's win over SIUE, Coach Newbauer became the second-fastest in Belmont's NCAA Division I program history (119 games) to reach 70 wins trailing just former head coach Tony Cross (113 games).
- As of Feb. 1, Belmont's 12 game winning streak is the sixth-longest active streak in the nation.
1. UCONN 21
2. Baylor 20
3. Harvard 16
4. Texas 15
5. New Hampshire 13
6. Belmont 12
T7. Florida Gulf Coast 11, Northern Colorado
Current as of 2/1/2017