NASHVILLE, Tenn.- The Belmont University women's basketball team (21-5, 13-0) resumes conference play Wednesday, Feb. 15 when it travels to Eastern Kentucky (9-16, 6-6) for its final road game of the 2016-17 regular season. Tip off from McBrayer Arena is slated for 6 p.m. Central time and will be broadcast live on the OVC Digital Network. Dr. Rich Tiner and the Bruin Sports Network will carry the audiocast.
"Wednesday is going to be a very tough challenge for us. Eastern Kentucky plays well at home and has a number of talented scorers including this season's Preseason Player of the Year in Jalen O'Bannon. They are an experienced group that can really compete on both ends of the floor. The first time we played in early January at our place was a hard fought win and we know we will need to be better in order to compete at their place tomorrow," said Belmont Head Coach Cameron Newbauer.
Belmont extended its winning streak to 15 games with a victory at Tennessee Tech on Saturday. Darby Maggard (Larwill, Ind.) and Kylee Smith (Alpharetta, Ga.) combined to score 48 points on 14 three-pointers as the Bruins put together one of their best offensive performances of the year. Racking up 21 assists as a team, Belmont finished the game shooting north of 50% for the ninth time this season. Sally McCabe (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) and Lauren Thompson (Franklin, Tenn.) also finished in double figures in the victory as the Bruins compiled their 12th road win of the season and their seventh straight away from Nashville.
Smith continues to lead the Bruins in scoring at 14.8 points per game while Maggard scores 14.5. Maggard leads the team with 92 three-pointers and leads the team in assists with 141. McCabe paces the club in rebounding at 7.7 per game and in blocked shots with 70.
With its victory over Tennessee Tech, Belmont clinched its first OVC regular season title and its first regular season conference title since winning the Atlantic Sun in 2006-07.
Eastern Kentucky enters the matchup sporting a 9-16 overall record but at 6-6 in OVC play it is tied fourth in the conference race. EKU has won its past two home games (Austin Peay, Morehead State) but is just 2-6 in its last eight games. Preseason Player of the Year Jalen O'Bannon leads the Colonels in scoring (13.4) and rebounding (6.6). Alexus Cooper (12.8) and Shavontae Naylor (12.2) also average double figures. Cooper is the lone Colonel to start all 25 games and leads the team with 54 three-pointers on the season. EKU is 7-4 in home games this season and O'Bannon, Cooper and Naylor all rank in the top 20 in the league in scoring.
Belmont is 14-3 in 17 all time meetings with Eastern Kentucky. The Bruins have won seven-straight in the series including a 74-58 win last month at the Curb Event Center. In a rematch of last season's OVC Championship, the Bruins and the Colonels battled in what was a contested bout throughout. Maggard, one of four in double figures, paced Belmont with 15 points, eight assists and zero turnovers.
After clashing with the Colonels, the Bruins finish their regular season out at home with a Feb. 18 matchup with Morehead State and a Feb. 25 date with Tenneseee State.
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- Belmont's 15 game winning streak this season is third longest in NCAA Division I trailing just UConn (25) and Texas (19).
- Belmont has won 29 of its past 30 OVC games including last season's OVC Tournament.
- The Bruins' 12 road wins are tied for UConn for the most in the country and they have won seven-straight away from Nashville.
- Belmont's 15 consecutive wins are just one shy of the program record of 16 set back in 1989-90.
- As of Feb. 12, Maggard is the only player in the nation top five in both three-pointers made (1st, 92) and three-point percentage (2nd, 50.3%). Maggard has attempted 173 three's which is the second most of anyone in the top 10 in percentage and the least amount in the top 10 of three's made. Maggard's 176 career three-pointers rank her eighth in program history already with less than two full seasons under her belt.
- The Bruins have started conference season 13-0 for the first time since transitioning into a Division I program.
- Belmont is No. 3 in the most recent ESPNW Mid Major Poll (Feb. 15) and ranked No. 17 in the most recent issue of the College Insider Women's Mid Major Top 25 (Feb. 14).