NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Belmont women's basketball team (11-16, 10-6 A-Sun) sent off its senior class with a huge victory after waging a major come from behind effort to pull out the win over visiting East Tennessee State (7-20, 6-10 A-Sun) on Saturday evening at the Curb Event Center. The Bruins held off the Lady Bucs 49-44 to sweep ETSU for the first time since the 2006-07 campaign.
After senior Haley Nelson (Scottsboro, Ala.) netted the first basket of the contest, the Lady Bucs went on a 9-0 tear, pulling ahead by seven, 9-2, by the 13:58 mark. Sophomore Molly Ernst (Louisville, Ky.) finally got the Bruins back into the game, halting a nearly seven minute scoring drought, with a three pointer from the top of the arc and Nelson followed with a layup to close the gap to two points, 9-7, three minutes later.
Baskets by freshman Adrienne Tarrence (Bowling Green, Ky.) and junior Alyssa Visbeen (Franklin, Tenn.) kept the Bruins within striking distance for the next three minutes until ETSU used an 11-2 run to pull away, 24-13, by the 4:11 mark. During the same span, the Bruins went frigid from the hardwood for nearly five minutes. Finally, Ernst battled for a mid-range jumper with 1.6 ticks left on the clock to send BU to the locker room down by 11, 26-15.
The Bruins opened the second half hot on the trail of the Lady Bucs and immediately began working to trim the score down, using shots from Nelson, freshman Katie Carroll (Lilburn, Ga.) and Visbeen. ETSU's once steady hand in the opening stanza went chilly as the team shot as poorly as 11.1 percent as BU began rolling. By the 14:49 mark, another Nelson tip-in and Ernst triple moved Belmont to within five, 30-25.
ETSU answered back with seven consecutive points to rebuild a double digit lead, 37-25, with 9:47 remaining. However, on the very next play, ETSU picked up a foul and a player technical which sent Ernst to the line where she netted both moving Belmont to within eight, 37-29, barely 30 seconds later. Freshman Torie Vaught (Maryville, Tenn.) exploded offensively over the next two minutes, helping to keep the Lady Bucs to single digits.
Suddenly, ETSU went ice cold from the floor for nearly five minutes and the lapse allowed the Bruins to make up considerable ground during the span. BU surged behind an 8-0 run courtesy of Tarrence and Nelson to inch within two points, 42-40, by the 3:49 mark. The Lady Bucs emerged from their scoring drought with a layup but redshirt junior Katie Brooks (Maryville, Tenn.) duplicated the effort on BU's end of the court to keep the Bruins within striking distance.
Finally, a jumper by Vaught forced the night's first and only tie at 44 with 1:56 left on the clock. Both teams burned timeouts to strategize in the waning seconds but it would be Belmont who would outmaneuver its opponent. Carroll drained a crucial three pointer from the corner with only 16.4 seconds remaining in regulation to give the Bruins their first lead since the opening possession, 47-44. The Lady Bucs attempted to match it on their end of the floor but the ball ricocheted off the back of the rim. Vaught was fouled on the rebound and went on the net both at the stripe to seal the 49-44 victory.
ETSU shot 28.3 percent from the floor, 14.3 percent from three-point range and 61.5 percent from the free-throw line. The Lady Bucs held the advantage in rebounds, 46-40, blocks, 7-3, and steals, 9-6.
The Lady Bucs were led in scoring and rebounding Destiny Mitchell, who picked up a double-double with 15 points and 12 boards.
Belmont shot 31.5 percent from the hardwood, 20 percent from behind the three-point arc and 75 percent from the charity stripe. The Bruins held the advantage in assists, 15-8.
Nelson notched her 13th double-double of the season with a game-high 15 points and 16 rebounds. Ernst also reached double figures, adding 12 points in the effort. Visbeen, Tarrence and Vaught each recorded three assists.
Belmont returns to action on Thursday, February 23 on the road at Kennesaw State. The contest can be heard live via the internet on the Bruin Sports Network and seen on ASun.TV. Live stats and a Twitter feed (@BelmontWBB) will also be available.