NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tulsa Golden Hurricane was no match for the raging storm that was the Belmont women's basketball team on Monday evening at the Curb Event Center. Behind a 20-0 first-quarter run, the Bruins washed over Tulsa and never relinquished their early lead in a 78-53 win during the season's home opener.
After the Golden Hurricane scored on its very first possession, the Bruins (1-1) held the visitors scoreless for the ensuing 8:08 of game time while building a 20-2 lead. Belmont's defense forced eight straight misses in that stretch while its offense shot 44 percent from the field in the quarter, 46 percent from 3-point range.
A 3-pointer from junior Maddie Wright (Chattanooga, Tenn.) just before halftime sent Belmont into intermission with a 45-19 lead on the strength of 10 first-half triples.
"I think we were all just ready for our first home game," said Wright, who finished with nine points and a career-high 11 rebounds. "That brought a lot of juice and energy to us because we were just so excited to be back in the Curb for the first time this year."
Belmont is 38-2 at the Curb Event Center dating back to the beginning of the 2015-16 season.
After a second-half rebounding disadvantage helped unravel Belmont's upset effort in the season opener at [17/16] North Carolina State last week, the Bruins dominated the glass against Tulsa (1-2). Belmont out-rebounded the Golden Hurricane, 50-37, with 29 of those coming in the one-sided opening half.
The Bruins had just four games with 50 or more boards during their dream 2017-18 season. Belmont was 29-0 when out-rebounding its opponent last year; BU is now 1-0 in such games in this young season.
"Coach always tells us that number on the boards will really define the number that's on the scoreboard," Wright said. "Our defense sparks our offense. We get energy from playing together on defense and really that all starts on the defensive glass."
Of course the Bruins still had to make the shots on the other end. The home team shot 42 percent for the game with 12 made 3-pointers.
Belmont senior Darby Maggard (Larwill, Ind.) led all players with 19 points, including five triples to push her to 1,501 points for her illustrious Belmont career. Only eight Bruins hav ever reached the 1,500-point mark.
"We were moving really, really well. We moved the ball, we moved our bodies," Maggard said. "When we do that we tend to get open, good looks and tonight we happened to knock them down. It's fun to play like that and when we play our pace, good things happen."
Maggard scored 33 when these teams met last year in Tulsa, thanks in large part to a school-record-tying nine 3-pointers.
Junior teammate Ellie Harmeyer (Kenosha, Wis.) added 13 points and nine rebounds and senior Maura Muensterman (Evansville, Ind.) chipped in 12 more points. Freshman Maddie Cook (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) reached double figures in just her second career game, topping out at 10 points, and senior Jenny Roy (Brentwood, Tenn.) had another all-around gem of a game with six points, six rebounds and six assists.
The Bruins will go on the road in their next action, traveling to Wright State on Thursday for a 6 p.m. game.