NASHVILLE, Tenn. – An explosive third quarter helped Belmont women's basketball hand Jacksonville State its first conference loss Saturday afternoon inside the Curb Event Center. Five different Bruins scored in double digits as they rolled past the Gamecocks, 71-55, to win their 29th consecutive conference game.
Junior guard Darby Maggard (Larwill, Ind.) led BU (14-3, 4-0) with 21 points and four assists. She was accompanied by Sierra Jones (Huntsville, Ala.) and Jenny Roy (Brentwood, Tenn.) who both boasted perfect performances from the field. Jones went 4-for-4 with 11 points while Roy went 3-for-3 pouring in 12 points with the help of five free throws. The Brentwood, Tenn. product also registered her second double-double of the season with 11 boards.
Senior center Sally McCabe (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) and junior forward Ellie Harmeyer (Kenosha, Wisc.) joined the club with 12 and 11 points, respectively. Belmont dominated in the paint, racking up 32 points to Jacksonville State's 24. The Bruins shot 53 percent from the floor while holding the Gamecocks to a quiet 35 percent.
Twelve players saw action on the hardwood for JSU (9-6, 3-1) with all but one tallying at least one point. The squad was charged by 10 points from Tyler Phelion and a pair of six rebound performances by Rayven Pearson and Chloe Long.
The Bruins and Gamecocks battled from the get go, trading buckets for much of the first half. In the opening quarter Maggard and McCabe powered Belmont's offense with six points apiece. The squad was able to push their lead to as many as five, 18-13, with the help of a timely three from Jones with 1:35 remaining. They would hold the advantage for the final minute-thirty.
Jacksonville State started the second frame with back-to-back buckets from three-point range to take their first lead of the game, 19-18, less than a minute in. BU refused to let the Gamecocks surge any further, as McCabe drained a jumper at the top key on a beautiful pass from Maggard. The assist marked the Larwill, Ind. native's third of the night to put her atop Belmont's Division I era records with 448 career assists. She passed Shaunda Strayhorn (447 career assists) who played for the Bruins from 2006-11. Jones continued her perfect start to the game with an under the basket layup that put her 3-for-3 from the field. While BU kept trying to distance themselves, the pesky Gamecocks snuck within one, 32-31, with just 2:06 remaining in the half. First half turnovers hindered the Bruins as JSU scored eight points on the free plays, leaving it a two-point game at the break, 35-33.
After Jacksonville State drove in a quick two to start the third, Belmont took total control. The Bruins would hold the Gamecocks without a field goal for the next five minutes while mounting a 14-1 run of their own. The teams first five consecutive points all came from the line as JSU racked up three quick fouls. From then on Belmont used a three from Roy and a couple of layups from Jones and sophomore forward Maddie Wright (Chatanooga, Tenn.) to go up, 49-36, on JSU. BU went on to outscore JSU, 21-7, in the third to secure a 56-40 advantage.
Roy drains a triple to cap off a 10-0 run for the Bruins! BU leads 45-36 with 5:20 left in the third. pic.twitter.com/yacyHvNpSE— Belmont WBasketball (@BelmontWBB) January 6, 2018
E. Harmeyer became the fifth Bruin to notch a double-digit performance after accounting for the team's first four points of the fourth. She sunk a free throw before hitting one from afar to bring her total to 10 points on the night. Maggard matched E. Harmeyer's three ball with one of her own to propel Belmont's lead to 21, 63-42, with 7:12 remaining. Roy collected her seventh career double-double after registering a couple of rebounds as time wound down. Maggard sealed the deal with her second triple of the quarter as BU remained perfect in OVC play for another day.
Belmont embarks on a two-game road stint starting Wednesday, Jan. 10 when they head to SIUE to take on the Cougars in Edwardsville, Ill. The game is slated to start at 7 p.m.