DETROIT, Mich. – After digging out of a 19-point hole, the Belmont women's basketball team (18-14) saw its incredible comeback effort fall just shy at the buzzer in the first round of the Women's Basketball Invitational on Thursday night. The Bruins, who were the No. 8 seed, were held off 71-68 by the East region's top-seeded Detroit (18-13).
Detroit jumped out to an early 7-0 lead before the Bruins got on the board behind put back baskets by redshirt sophomore Jordyn Luffman (Lawrenceburg, Tenn.) and senior Jordan Coleman (Orlando, Fla.). The Titans quickly built a double digit differential before BU scored its 10th point around the 10 minute mark. Finally, the Bruins were able to get their feet underneath them and began to whittle away at the Detroit lead, exploding for a 6-0 run after back-to-back layups by Coleman and sophomore Adrienne Tarrence (Bowling Green, Ky.), forcing the Titans bench to burn a timeout. Detroit rebounded after the brief break and found the bottom of the basket to build a 29-13 lead by the 5:19 mark.
The final two and a half minutes of the half saw the Bruins heat up and string together a run by senior Alyssa Visbeen (Franklin, Tenn.) that made up major ground and moved BU to within 12, 35-23. However, Belmont was unable to capitalize on a pair of offensive rebounds in the waning seconds and took the same deficit into the locker room.
After the break, the Bruins were back to their game that pushed them to the postseason in just their first year as a member of the Ohio Valley Conference. Quick hands and great inside work saw point production from senior trio Coleman, Visbeen, and Katie Brooks (Maryville, Tenn.) bring the UDM lead back to within single digits.
A pair of monster three pointers by junior Molly Ernst (Louisville, Ky.) swiftly changed the momentum and saw the Bruins suddenly take control of the game. Down by only three points, 47-44, with 13:25 left on the clock, Belmont worked over the next three and half minutes to force the first tie of the game at 49. BU went on to grab its biggest lead of the night, six points, 57-51, by the 8:40 mark but the Titans continued to fight, forcing four more ties. With just over five minutes left on the clock, the teams were stalemated at 60 but only briefly so.
As the game neared the final four minutes of regulation, Detroit hustled to get back into the lead and used a 7-0 run to pull away, 67-60, barely one minute later. Belmont rallied once again in the final 90 seconds of regulation, bringing fans of both teams to their feet. UDM used a pair of free throws to go up 69-66 but Luffman answered with a crucial pair on the opposite end to keep the teams separated by only one point, 69-68, with 41 seconds left on the clock.
Only down by one, BU had a chance to score a basket that could have been the game winner but it was blocked with 0.07 ticks left on the clock. In the resulting melee, UDM was fouled and sent to the line, making both to take the first meeting between the programs 71-68.
Detroit shot 39.6 percent from the floor, 30 percent from three-point range and 83.9 percent from the free-throw line. The Titans held the advantage in blocks, 6-3.
UDM was led in scoring by Shareta Brown, who scored a game-high 30 points. Demeisha Fambro and Yar Shayok contributed 14 and 11 points, respectively. Brown also led the team in rebounds, grabbing 11.
Belmont shot 41.4 percent from the hardwood, 25 percent from behind the three-point arc, and 64 percent from the charity stripe. The Bruins held the advantage in rebounds, 39-36, and assists, 11-9. The teams were even in steals with five apiece.
Belmont was led in scoring by Ernst, who scored 17 points. Coleman added 15, while Visbeen and Luffman rounded out the double digit scorers with 10 points. Luffman also led the team in rebounds, pulling down 10. Brooks finished with a game-high six assists.
The Bruins, who earned their first postseason berth since 2007, finish their inaugural season in the Ohio Valley Conference with a 18-14 mark.