NASHVILLE, Tenn. – For the second straight game the Belmont women's basketball team set a season standard for offensive execution. Saturday's performance at the Curb Event Center, though, was one for the record books.
The Bruins reached 100 points for just the fourth time in the program's NCAA Division I era and earned a crucial Ohio Valley Conference victory in the process, topping UT Martin, 100-86. The win keeps Belmont in sole possession of first place in the OVC standings at 9-1 (16-5 overall).
The Bruins set season bests in points and shooting percentage (53.7 percent), and dished out 30 assists on 35 made baskets, two more season highs. Belmont has only once had most assists in a game in the NCAA era (31 vs. Sewanee, Feb. 8, 2000), and the 100 points marked the program's second most ever at the Curb Event Center (102 vs. Lipscomb, Dec. 2, 2015).
"It was a really, really fast-paced game," said junior forward Ellie Harmeyer (Kenosha, Wis.), who set a career high with 30 points. "We don't usually play like that, but our team is in great condition to play like that. Any sort of game, anything that a defense throws at us, we're always ready for it."
Little about the opening 14 minutes of play hinted at the eventual 186 combined points. A stifling Belmont defense held UT Martin to just two makes in its first 23 attempts (8.7 percent) while taking a 23-6 lead. UT Martin (7-3 OVC, 15-6) entered the game shooting 43.3 percent from the field.
Senior Jenny Roy (Brentwood, Tenn.) was the benefactor of many of those missed shots. She gobbled up 10 rebounds in the first 11 minutes of the game and finished with a career-best 20 boards, Belmont's first 20-rebound performer in 12 years (Alysha Clark, 20, 2007).
"Our defense was definitely locked in," said Roy, who nearly put up a double-double with nine assists as well. "We wanted to take them out of rhythm and make them take those tough twos. We knew we had to take away their strengths and make them do something else, and that really showed. Then cleaning up the glass was the second key to it."
Harmeyer also had 10 rebounds, her eighth double-double of the season.
UT Martin soon found its shooting stroke, cutting what was a 21-point deficit to just six points after halftime, but Belmont didn't falter. The Bruins scored 56 points in the second half, freshman Maddie Cook (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) putting the finishing touches on the 100-point day with two free throws with 30 seconds left in the game.
Belmont saw five players reach double figures scoring for the second straight game. Darby Maggard (Larwill, Ind.) scored 24 points on six made 3-pointers and added eight assists; Maura Muensterman (Evansville, Ind.) and Jamilyn Kinney (Van Buren, Ark.) each poured in 14, a career high for the latter; and Maddie Wright chipped in 12 in the fast-paced contest.
Saturday's meeting was the first between the two teams since an instant classic and overtime thriller in last year's OVC Tournament championship game. Belmont won that one 63-56 in extra time in an equally speedy and physical contest.
"It definitely takes a little toll on your body, but this was such a fun game. That's what you live for," Roy said. "Right now I don't feel a single bruise on my body; I'm still so excited, having the time of my life out there with those girls."
Up Next: Belmont heads out on the road to visit Eastern Kentucky next Thursday, a 4 p.m. (CT) start.