NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Normally a 3-point reliant squad, the Belmont women's basketball team knew success Saturday against Tennessee State meant a strong presence in the paint. Enter Bruin forward Maddie Wright.
The junior Wright (Chattanooga, Tenn.) was a force for the Bruins inside, scoring a career-high 17 points and opening up the floor in Belmont's 80-46 victory at the Curb Event Center. The win, Belmont's fourth in a row, moves the Bruins to 12-5 with a 5-1 mark in Ohio Valley Conference games.
Wright was especially dominant in the first quarter, scoring 12 points during a perfect shooting frame. She was 4-for-4 on field goals and 3-for-3 at the free-throw line.
"We all knew being aggressive was going to be a big part of this game," said Wright, who averaged 16.0 points in two Belmont wins this week. "We wanted to attack the basket, look for post-ups. Our team did a really good job of that, playing together and playing aggressive."
Things really took off for the Bruins in the second quarter as Belmont took advantage of a spread-out TSU defense. A four-point Belmont lead swelled to 41-20 following a 17-0 run that covered six full minutes. Belmont's defense was just as imperative to the hot streak, forcing 12 straight missed shots by the Tigers (1-17, 1-5 OVC).
And when TSU missed, the Bruins were there to gobble up the rebounds. Belmont tied a season-high with 50 boards, including 20 on the offensive end. TSU managed only 25 rebounds total.
"It starts with our focus and our effort in boxing out before even going after the ball," said Belmont freshman forward Allison Luly (Alpharetta, Ga.), who pulled down eight boards. "You can't get rebounds without your whole team boxing out. That comes from practice. Rebounding against each other there really helps make us better."
Belmont also enjoyed one of its best free-throw shooting days of the season, racking up 21 makes at the line (21-of-29), its second most this season (22 at MTSU). Among those was a perfect 6-for-6 performance from senior Darby Maggard (Larwill, Ind.).
Maggard, who led all players with 18 points, is now 22-for-22 on free throws this season. She extends her streak of consecutive makes to 42 straight dating back to last season.
Up Next: Belmont looks to extend its winning streak to a season-high five games when the Bruins travel to Murray State next Thursday.