NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Belmont women's basketball team returns victorious to the Curb Event Center on Thursday, ready to host Toledo after sweeping its recent three-game road swing. The Bruins (4-1) will play just their second home game of the season when they square off with the Rockets.
Tip-off is set for 11 a.m., a rare matinee performance for Belmont that coincides with the program-hosted "Best Field Trip Ever" event. The third annual kids' day is expected to bring more than 2,000 elementary and middle school aged children to the game.
The Bruins (4-1) haven't played at home in more than two weeks, having made extended road trips north for wins at Wright State and Northern Kentucky in that time. They also captured a victory at Middle Tennessee State for the first time in 43 years.
"It feels like we've been on the road the whole year," said Belmont junior Ellie Harmeyer (Kenosha, Wis.). "I think that's huge in the early season. Having the toughness and the guts to pull out three road wins in a row is extraordinary. It's not an easy thing to do. I'm really proud of the way my team competed over those 10 days."
Belmont's only home contest thus far was a 25-point victory over Tulsa on Nov. 12. The Bruins play only four home dates during their challenging 11-game non-conference schedule, the next coming up next Tuesday in the annual Battle of the Boulevard against rival Lipscomb.
Belmont and Toledo have never faced one another. The Rockets were picked to finish second in the West Division of the Mid-American Conference and carry a 3-2 record into Thursday's contest.
This is the first ever meeting between the Bruins and Rockets.
Belmont is off to a 4-1 start for the third time in the past four seasons. The Bruins started 4-1 a year ago on their way to a 31-4 overall record. Belmont started the 2015-16 season on an 8-1 stretch before finishing 24-9. The program's best start in the NCAA era was 12-1 in 2001-02.
COLLEGE SPORTS MADNESS HONORS
Belmont players have been named the Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Week in each of the past two weeks with junior Ellie Harmeyer being honored this past Monday and senior Darby Maggard the week before.
WATCH OUT FOR MAGGARD
Senior Darby Maggard is one of 35 players named to the watch list for the Wade Trophy given to the nation's top college women's basketball player by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association. She was also on the preseason watch list for the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award as one of the top 20 shooting guards in the country.
RECORD REACHED FOR MAGGARD
With 16 points at Northern Kentucky, Maggard became Belmont's career scoring leader in the NCAA Division I era (since 1997-98) with 1,553 points. She passed former teammate Sally McCabe (1,540 points) for the top spot and now ranks sixth in Belmont's overall program history.
LIGHTS OUT SHOOTER
Maggard ranks first among active NCAA players in both 3-point shooting percentage (44.0%) and free-throw percentage (92.7%). She is also No. 2 among active players in made 3-pointers (335), assist-to-turnover ratio (2.78) and third in assists (559).
ONE MORE YEAR
Belmont guard Maura Muensterman has been granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA after a successful eligibility extension waiver petition. A transfer from Indiana, Muensterman missed all but the first three games of the 2016-17 season due to injury.
Maggard ranks first in the OVC in 3-pointers (3.6 per game), assist-to-turnover ratio (3.2) and free-throw percentage (1.000) as well as fifth in scoring (16.8 ppg). Roy is fourth in assists (4.4) per game, shooting percentage (57.6%) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.2). Harmeyer is fifth in rebounds per game (8.0).
REALLY HIGH RPI
Belmont enters the week at 19th in the latest women's basketball RPI rankings, the only OVC team in the top 90.
The Bruins are ranked 8th in the CollegeInsider.com Women's Mid-Major poll. That comes after Belmont climbed to the No. 1 spot during last year's run.
HOME SWEET HOME
The Bruins have been nearly impossible to beat at home the past three-plus years, boasting an unprecedented 38-2 record inside the Curb Event Center. The two losses in that span came to a Green Bay (2016) squad that was receiving votes in both the AP and USA Today Coaches poll and a Wright State (2017) team that was ranked 15th in CollegeInsider.com's mid-major poll. Belmont visits Wright State on Nov. 15 this year.