CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – Despite a surge late in the second half, the Belmont women's basketball team (2-9) fell in its non-conference road finale. The Bruins fell at Chattanooga (6-3) on Thursday night, 75-42.
The teams traded baskets in the early minutes before Chattanooga grabbed a 10-4 lead six minutes into the contest. However, the Bruins were able to close the gap to just a single bucket behind a jumper in the lane by redshirt junior Katie Brooks (Maryville, Tenn.) and a pair at the charity stripe by senior Haley Nelson (Scottsboro, Ala.) with just under 12 minutes left in the half. The teams continued to play at a quick pace through the midpoint of the stanza with lots of shots fired and hustling in the paint for rebounds and loose balls.
The Lady Mocs suddenly exploded offensively, using a series of threes and put together an 11-0 run to go up, 27-12, by the 6:09 mark. The Bruin bench called a timeout to strategize and immediately saw production from junior Alyssa Visbeen (Franklin, Tenn.), who netted a jumper from the left elbow to cut the UTC lead to 13, 27-14, less than 30 seconds later. Belmont attempted to regain ground with shooting from the outside but would not be able to find the bottom of the net from long range for the entire first half. Chattanooga continued piling on the points but BU nearly matched shot for shot down the stretch, managing to trim the lead down to 11, 29-18, as the teams headed to the locker rooms.
The Bruins came out of the break playing much more stringent defense and stepped up their inside game, feeding Nelson and Visbeen under the basket on BU's first four possessions. Chattanooga exploded again, this time for a 12-2 run to pull away 51-28 by the 11:13 mark. A fade away jumper by Brooks one minute later narrowed the gap to 21 points but that would be as close as Belmont would come for the remainder of the night.
Point production for BU slowed to a near halt midway through the second half as they were only able to net four points over a more than a six and a half minute span. The iciness allowed the Lady Mocs to continue to build on their lead, going up by as many as 34, 64-30, with only seven minutes remaining in regulation. Nelson was able to find the bottom of the net to add to BU's tally and bring to an end to a drought that had ticked into its fourth minute. Senior Cacy Burtnett (Cleveland, Tenn.) hit the back end of a pair at the stripe and Visbeen followed with Belmont's first trey of the night at the 5:22 mark to move BU to make the point differential less than 30 points. In the final two minutes, freshman Torie Vaught (Maryville, Tenn.) drained a triple but it barely made a dent in UTC's massive lead. The Bruins tried to hold for the final shot of regulation but were unable to connect and fell, 75-42.
Chattanooga shot 46.6 percent from the floor, 81.3 percent from the free-throw line and 33.3 percent from three-point range. The Lady Mocs held the advantage in rebounds, 42-32, and assists, 16-12.
Taylor Hall led UTC in scoring with 13 points, followed by Kylie Lambert and Kayla Christopher, who added 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Belmont shot 31.6 percent from the hardwood, 57.1 percent from the charity stripe and 16.7 percent from behind the three-point arc. The Bruins held the advantage in blocks, 7-2, and steals, 5-4.
Nelson led the Bruins with a game-high 20 points. Brooks added nine and Visbeen contributed seven points. Nelson also led the team in rebounds with a total of six, followed by Visbeen, Brooks and Burtnett, who each pulled down five boards.
Belmont returns to action on Sunday at the Curb Event Center. The Bruins host in-state rival and future Ohio Valley Conference foe Austin Peay beginning at 2 p.m. The contest can be heard live the internet on the Bruins Sports Network and seen live on ASun.TV. Live stats and a live Twitter feed (@BelmontWBB) will also be available.