NASHVILLE, Tenn. – You can't win 'em all.
And yet the Belmont women's basketball team had. For better than two full seasons, 1,056 days, 47 straight conference matchups, the Bruins had not lost to an Ohio Valley Conference opponent.
That remarkable run came to an end Saturday against the upstart Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles, who escaped from the Curb Event Center with a 77-72 upset. Only UConn (116 games) has enjoyed a current active conference win streak better than Belmont's 47 games.
Belmont is now 1-1 in OVC games this season, 8-5 overall. TTU improves to 2-0, 10-3.
Belmont's dominance in conference, where the Bruins have won the past three OVC Tournaments and qualified for the past three NCAA Tournaments, has hung a Bruin-sized target in the minds of every league opponent BU faces.
"Every time we step on the floor, every team we play in conference is going to give us their best game," Belmont Head Coach Bart Brooks said. "Tech is a really good, quality basketball team. This is what our league is like, but that's what we signed up for."
The Golden Eagles matched the Bruins' intensity from the opening tip, out-pacing their season averages across the board offensively. Their 77 points matched a season-high output among games against Division I opponents.
But Belmont didn't go quietly, despite facing a 12-point halftime deficit at 39-27. The Bruins opened up their offense after intermission, including six makes from 3-point range in the fourth quarter alone.
The Bruins twice trimmed the hill down to four points in the fourth quarter. Junior guard Maura Muensterman (Evansville, Ind.) connected on her third of four 3-pointers with 2:46 left to get it to 65-61. Two minutes later senior guard Darby Maggard (Larwill, Ind.) hit a three to make it 73-69.
Each time Tennessee Tech had a response though. TTU's effort left Belmont with its first loss to an OVC foe since Feb. 15, 2016. The Bruins hadn't lost in conference at the Curb since Feb. 28, 2015, another gaudy stretch that covered 26 straight wins.
"Coach Bart emphasized the important thing is how we respond to this," said Muensterman, who netted 16 points. "It's really important that we use this to grow, learn from our mistakes. When adversity hits you've got to come together. If we can do that, take a step in the right direction, it's going to help us a ton the rest of the way."
Muensterman was one of three Bruins with at least 16 points, led by another powerful performance from junior forward Ellie Harmeyer (Kenosha, Wis.). Harmeyer racked up 22 points with nine rebounds – she's averaging 20.5 points and 10.0 boards her last four games – and Maggard added 19 points.
It's Maggard's second straight game with 19 points. That bumps her into fifth place on Belmont's all-time scoring list her with 1,661 career points.
Up Next: Belmont will look to start a new streak as it continues its season-long four-game homestand next Thursday. The Bruins host Morehead State (10-5, 1-1 OVC) in further OVC play. Tipoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.