MACON, Ga. – The third seeded Belmont women's basketball team (12-17, 11-7 A-Sun) will open play at the 2012 General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Tournament on Thursday evening. The Bruins, who earned their highest seed since the 2009 tournament, face off against Jacksonville (10-19, 8-10 A-Sun) in the quarterfinals.
The Dolphins closed the regular season, winning three of their last five contests. JU, who snagged the No. 6 seed at the 2012 General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Tournament, finished the regular season with a 10-19 overall record and an 8-10 conference mark. Jacksonville is led in scoring by 2012 Atlantic Sun Defensive Player of the Year Crystal Bell. She is averaging 13.4 points per game. Abril Peeples is also averaging in double digits, adding 10.3 points per outing. Jade Cargill leads the team in rebounds, pulling down 8.0 per contest.
Belmont and Jacksonville split this year's regular season series. In Jacksonville, the Bruins fell, 57-50, however, in Nashville a month later, BU won 68-62. Against the Dolphins this year, senior Haley Nelson (Scottsboro, Ala.) averaged 15 points and eight rebounds. Redshirt junior Katie Brooks (Maryville, Tenn.) averaged 13 points per game, including going 14-for-16 at the free-throw line. Junior Alyssa Visbeen (Franklin, Tenn.) averaged 7.5 rebounds over the two games.
Belmont leads the all-time series, 15-6.
The Bruins closed the regular season behind a strong second half comeback effort that fell just short in the final three minutes of regulation on the road at Mercer. The Bruins battled back from a 17-point deficit but fell 73-66. Nelson picked up her 15th double-double of the season, matching her career-high of 22 points and pulling down a game-high 13 rebounds. Sophomore Julianne Downs (Franklin, Tenn.) added nine points and freshman Katie Carroll (Lilburn, Ga.) dropped in eight points in the effort. Senior Tristan Daniel (Waynesboro, Tenn.) was perfect at the free-throw line, going 6-for-6. Downs also had a career-high three assists.
Nelson, an All-Atlantic Sun First Team honoree, led BU in scoring, field-goal percentage, rebounding, blocks and steals all season. She is averaging 14.3 points while shooting at a 51.9 percent clip from the floor, pulling down 8.9 boards per outing as well as 2.1 stops and 1.8 swipes per game. Brooks leads the team in assists with a total of 96. Downs and classmate Molly Ernst (Louisville, Ky.) lead the Bruins in shooting at the charity stripe, knocking down 84.6 and 82.4 percent, respectively. Visbeen and Ernst top BU's three-point shooters, knocking down 34.0 and 33.3 percent from behind the arc, respectively.
Three Bruins made their presence felt in NCAA Division I statistics throughout the regular season. Nelson continues to stand among the best statistically among all NCAA Division I players, making appearances in six categories. Her highest rankings are sixth in double doubles (15), 29th in field-goal percentage (.519) and 30th in blocked shots per game (2.2). She is also ranked 52nd in rebounds per game (9.1), 176th in points per game (14.5) and 289th in steals per game (1.8). Brooks is ranked 197th in assists per game (3.4) and 198th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.11) while Ernst is ranked 85th in three-point field-goal percentage (33.3) and 113th in three-point field goals per game (2.0).
Thursday night's quarterfinal matchup is slated to tip-off at 6 pm ET. The contest can be heard live via the internet on the Bruins Sports Network and seen live on ASun.TV. Live stats and a Twitter feed (@BelmontWBB) will also be available.