LAS VEGAS – Senior guard Kylee Smith (Alpharetta, Ga.) led Belmont women's basketball to a third-place finish in the Play4Kay Showcase against [--/RV] Florida Gulf Coast Saturday evening inside the Mandalay Bay Event Center. The Bruins handed the Eagles just their second loss of the season with a 75-65 victory.
Belmont finished the tournament with a 2-1 mark, taking on three squads that were either nationally ranked or receiving votes in polls. Smith led the way against FGCU with 28 points, nailing 13 field goals while also dishing out three assists.
Behind Smith, three additional players scored in double-digits including Darby Maggard's (Larwill, Ind.) 16 points and a pair of 10-point scoring efforts from Jenny Roy (Brenwood, Tenn.) and Ellie Harmeyer (Kenosha, Wisc.) – a season high for E. Harmeyer. Roy also tallied a team-high eight rebounds.
It took a few minutes, but the Bruins found their stroke early in the first quarter going on a 12-2 run on a 4-for-4 effort from the field. During the run BU prevented FGCU from getting a basket for more than four minutes to take a lead that they wouldn't relinquish for the remainder of the game. Junior guard Maggard put up 10 points in the first stanza alone with the help from a trey and pull up jumper in the waning seconds up give Belmont a 19-14 advantage.
Belmont continued to put forth a solid performance on both ends of the court. Senior guard Sierra Jones (Huntsville, Ala.) wore her second charge of the game in the opening minutes that were accompanied by back-to-back threes from Smith and Jones that gave the Bruins a nine-point lead with 5:52 left in the half. The squad continued fight for every possession as Harmeyer tallied an offensive rebound that was followed up with a layup as BU took its largest lead of the half into the locker room, up 36-26.
Smith continued to find the bottom of the net in the third, pouring in eight points as the Bruins kicked off the second half on a 5-0 run to take a 15-point lead. Maggard sunk her third trey of the game, boasting a perfect 3-for-3 mark beyond the arc three minutes into the third stanza. Florida Gulf Coast mounted a run of its own to cut the BU lead to seven tallies amidst a 4:35 Bruin scoring drought. Belmont held a 57-50 advantage with a stanza remaining.
The Eagles' comeback bid was halted at the top of the fourth as Belmont drained consecutive threes en route to eight unanswered points to increase its lead to 12, 65-53, halfway through the fourth. From then on BU kept FGCU from asserting itself back into the game. Junior guard Maura Muensterman (Evansville, Ind.) sealed the deal hitting the squad's ninth three of the night with 24 seconds left on the clock to solidify Belmont's third-place finish.
- Belmont defeated --/RV Gonzaga, 71-63, in the opening round behind senior center Sally McCabe's season-high 21 points.
- The Bruins fell to No. 14/9 Stanford, 74-53, after being tied to the powerhouse at the half.
- Junior guard Darby Maggard led the squad with 13 points and six rebounds against the Cardinal.
- BU defeated --/RV FGCU, 75-65, to take third in the Play4Kay Showcase.
- Smith scored 28 points against the Eagles going 13-for-23 from the field.
- Three different players tallied game-high scoring efforts throughout the tournament – McCabe, Maggard and Smith.
- Belmont came third to No. 9/8 Ohio State and No. 14/9 Stanford.
- Five of the eight teams in the tournament were either ranked or receiving votes in the national polls.
The Bruins return home to take on Trevecca Nazarene on Tuesday, Nov. 28 inside the Curb Event Center.