NASHVILLE, Tenn. – They may not be leaving Nashville, but Wednesday's contest against Tennessee State is anything but a home game for the Belmont women's basketball team.
The Bruins visit the Tigers for a matinee clash at the always-tough Gentry Center across town, an 11 a.m. tip-off as part of TSU's annual "Kids Day." As many as 3,000 young basketball fans are expected to be in attendance.
The back half of Belmont's Ohio Valley Conference schedule is exceptionally road heavy. In facing TSU (4-20, 4-8 OVC), the Bruins are playing their third road game of six away from the Curb Event Center in Belmont's final eight regular season dates. Performing well on the road is imperative to the Bruins securing a top seed to the upcoming OVC Tournament.
"(Road wins) are extremely crucial at this point in the season especially. Playing on the road this late in the season, it's hard," said junior forward Ellie Harmeyer (Kenosha, Wis.), who averaged 17.5 points in Belmont's two road wins last week at Eastern Kentucky and Morehead State.
"We performed really well as a team in those two wins (last week) and they gave us momentum going into the rest of the season."
At 11-1 in OVC games (18-5 overall), Belmont owns a two-game advantage at the top of the league standings. The Bruins have been on fire of late, winning their past 10 straight games. Included in that stretch has been two 20-point wins over second-place Morehead State (18-7, 9-3 OVC) and another victory over UT Martin (16-7, 8-4 OVC), both of whom will be challengers to Belmont's crown as OVC champion come tournament time.
A rematch is also looming Saturday at Tennessee Tech (17-6, 9-3 OVC), the only blemish on the Bruins' league record this year. But Belmont is playing much better basketball than when the two sides met in Nashville on Jan. 5.
"Definitely. Even a month ago, our team was in a totally different place," Harmeyer said. "We're so much better than we were when we last played Tennessee State or Tennessee Tech. That's what we wanted. We want this team to be playing its best basketball at the end of the season."
The OVC Tournament begins March 6 in Evansville, Ind.