NASHVILLE, Tenn. - - To honor Belmont University Athletics' vast achievements over its 20 years as an NCAA Division I member institution, BelmontBruins.com begins its list of the Top 20 moments and accomplishments over the last two decades.
Today, we unveil moment Nos. 11-20; a cross-section of achievement during every step of the Bruins' NCAA Division I era:
On Feb. 23, 2013, Belmont men's basketball hosted Ohio University in the Ramada Worldwide BracketBusters. An electric, overflow crowd in front of an ESPN2 national television audience was treated to one of Belmont's most complete games in recent memory, against a Sweet 16 Bobcats team from 2012. Ian Clark became Belmont's all-time leading scorer in the NCAA Division I era as the Bruins won, 81-62. Belmont would go on to win the OVC Championship and earn a No. 11 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
No. 19 - 1998 Women's Soccer
Somewhat lost amidst Belmont's conference championships in 2008 & 2009 and the program's nationally top-ranked team GPA in 2015, was the Bruins' remarkable 1998 campaign. In just its second season of existence, Belmont defeated the likes of Mississippi State, Middle Tennessee, Samford, and future OVC rivals UT Martin, Morehead State and Tennessee Tech en route to a 15-3 record - a single-season program standard for victories that stands to this day.
One of the true shining moments of an unforgettable 2006 year for the entire athletic program was men's tennis' run to the Atlantic Sun Championship. Led by Felipe Lima, Fausto Rocha, and Javier Rodriguez, Belmont stunned Campbell, Stetson and nationally-ranked ETSU to reach the team's first-ever NCAA Tournament at Ole Miss.
Over the last three years, Belmont men's golf has accumulated a small warehouse full of hardware, building a foundation for postseason play for years to come. Since 2014, the Bruins have won six team tournaments - nearly half of the program's lifetime total. Earning entry into deeper, more competitive fields has yielded results, most notably victory at storied Pinehurst. Ashton Van Horne was named OVC Golfer of the Year and became the first Belmont golfer - male or female - to reach the NCAA Golf Championships.
No. 16 - Lynette and Lorie
Any conversation about the most decorated female athletes of Belmont's NCAA Division I era must include Lynette Rives and Lorie Warren. Rives, who won 12 Atlantic Sun Conference individual event titles and reached NCAA regionals all four years, earned NCAA All-America honors in the 200 meters in 2008. Meanwhile, Warren, who took home medalist honors seven times in her career, was a 4-time All-Atlantic Sun selection in women's golf.
This past season, Belmont women's basketball reached new heights. The Bruins went 24-9, earned a No. 13 seed in its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2007, ranked Top 50 nationally in 16 statistical categories, won conference tournament games by a combined 74 points to claim the 2016 Ohio Valley Conference Women's Basketball Championship, and earned National Top 25 poll votes for the first time in a decade.
With 11 players averaging double figure minutes, Belmont led the nation in scoring margin (+17.5), outscoring Atlantic Sun competition by 21 points per game - the widest conference scoring margin in the NCAA since Duke in 1999. The Bruins won the 2011 Atlantic Sun Championship by 41 points - the third-largest margin of victory ever in any conference tournament. It started a string of six straight seasons of earning Top 100 RPI rankings and national Top 25 poll votes.
With clutch pitching of Patrick McGrath and Matthew Kinney as the lead ingredient, Belmont Baseball cooked up a winning recipe to sweep defending National Champion Vanderbilt in 2015. After winning 3-2 at Hawkins Field April 14 behind late home runs from Matt Beaty and Tyler Walsh, two weeks later, the Bruins defeated the Commodores, 4-1, at a packed E.S. Rose Park. Belmont became the first midweek opponent to defeat Vanderbilt twice in the same regular season since 2003, Tim Corbin's first season at Vanderbilt.
Belmont men's basketball has slain a number of the most recognized programs in college basketball. It began in December 2003, when the Bruins burst onto the scene and stunned nationally-ranked Missouri - a team with seven future NBA players. Then came wins over Cincinnati, Alabama and Stanford before the unforgettable 83-80 victory at six-time National Champion North Carolina. This past season, Belmont won by the same score at Marquette.
Few programs in the nation can boast the history and tradition of Belmont University distance runners. From its arrival in the Atlantic Sun Conference in 2001, Belmont men's and women's cross country won 13 of a possible 16 conference championships. The Bruin harriers are annually ranked in the USTFCCCA South Region polls, with 27 entries in the NCAA regional track meet and 12 at nationals, most recently highlighted by Hannah Wittman's national double in cross country and outdoor 10,000 meters. William Kemey and Keely Weaver got it all started with multiple trips to nationals, and the Bruins haven't slowed down since.