NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Thursday's game seemed destined to end up in the record books from the opening minutes the way the Belmont women's basketball team came out shooting. The Bruins tied a program record with 19 made 3-pointers while rolling to a huge 98-57 win over Eastern Illinois.
The victory clinches Belmont (21-5, 14-1 OVC) no worse than a share of the Ohio Valley Conference regular-season crown with three games remaining.
Junior Ellie Harmeyer (Kenosha, Wis.) knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers before the game was even a minute old and the Bruins started with five straight makes total, all from 3-point range. Belmont hit on its first seven attempts from 3-point range to build a 23-7 lead in the opening five minutes and never looked back.
"It was awesome. We came out and got a couple really nice skip passes to Ellie (Harmeyer) and she just let it fly for three," said Belmont senior Darby Maggard (Larwill, Ind.), who added her own historical flair by surpassing 400 career 3-pointers in the win. "When you're getting wide open shots like that and they're hitting the bottom of the net, you know you're about to have a really good night."
The Bruins, who made nine threes in the first quarter alone, shot 19-of-37 from long distance to match a program high set just last year. The 2017-18 Bruins made 19 against Trevecca Nazarene.
Belmont's record-tying and final three was also senior Hannah Harmeyer's (Kenosha, Wis.) first of the season. It came with 3:25 left in the game and was immediately followed by an explosion of cheers from the Belmont sideline.
"It's so cool to turn to the bench and see your teammates erupt like that, to turn to the stands and see everyone off their feet," Hannah Harmeyer said. "It's a really awesome moment and one I'll always remember."
A major chunk of Thursday's three barrage belonged to Maggard, who became only the fifth player in NCAA Division I women's basketball history to reach 400 career threes. She made her first five 3-point attempts and finished 7-of-12 from beyond the arc to check in at 405 for her career. She scored a game-high 25 points in all.
Maggard did more than shoot though. She also had seven assists, part of Belmont's 25 dimes overall.
"It's really neat," Maggard said of hitting the career milestone. "There's been so many amazing and talented women's basketball players that have played this game in the NCAA. To hit 400 threes, it's a testament to my teammates and a testament to my coaches and the way they've run their offense. I'm thankful for Coach Bart (Brooks) for allowing me to take my shots."
Belmont, which shot better than 60 percent from the field for the first time this season, got 16 points and three more threes from junior Ellie Harmeyer (Kenosha, Wis.); three threes and 15 points from junior Maura Muensterman (Evansville, Ind.); and 10 points and a trio of threes from freshman Jamilyn Kinney (Van Buren, Ark.).
Belmont has earned at least a share of the OVC's regular season title for a third straight year. The Bruins can lock up the outright championship with a win Saturday.
The Bruins host SIU Edwardsville for Homecoming at 3 p.m. on Saturday.