NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Belmont women's basketball team can sew up the Ohio Valley Conference's regular-season championship for a third straight year against SIU Edwardsville on Homecoming. All the Bruins need to do is win.
At 14-1 in OVC games this season (21-5 overall), the Bruins have already clinched at worst a share of the OVC regular season title. A single victory during Belmont's three remaining games would give the Bruins the outright crown headed into the OVC Tournament beginning March 6.
Though a spot in the NCAA Tournament won't be decided unitl the conference tournament, a regular-season title is more than ceremonial. With it comes the No. 1 overall seed in the OVC tournament and the clearest path to a tournament crown and a berth in the big dance.
Belmont is already looking like a tournament team and playing its best basketball of the season as of late. Belmont has shot 50 percent or better from the field in six of the past seven outings and made at least 10 3-pointers in eight straight games. The Bruins hit 19 threes during a huge win over EIU on Thursday.
SIUE (12-14, 7-8 OVC) is battling for its postseason life right now, sitting in a four-way tie for sixth in the OVC. Only the top eight teams advance to the conference tournament, which will be played in Evansville, Ind., for a second straight year.
Belmont will be seeking its fourth straight OVC Tournament championship and appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
LAST TIME OUT
Belmont enjoyed its best shooting day of the season with 19 made 3-pointers and a 60% field goal percentage to top Eastern Illinois, 98-57. Darby Maggard had seven 3-pointers and 25 points.
Belmont is 6-3 all-time against SIUE, a series history that only dates back to the Bruins' admission to the OVC in 2012. BU swept two meetings last year, including an 88-64 win at home.
OVC TITLE WITHIN REACH
Belmont has clinched no worse than a share of the OVC regular-season crown. A win vs. SIUE would give the Bruins the title outright and the No. 1 seed in the upcoming OVC Tournament.
400 THREES FOR MAGGARD
Darby Maggard became just the fifth player in NCAA Division I history to reach 400 3-pointers for her career with a season-high seven threes vs. EIU (2/21). With 405 now, she can pass the all-time Belmont program record that dates back to the NAIA era (415, Kelli Davis, 1991-94).
MAGGARD SETS OVC CAREER 3-POINT RECORD
With two 3-pointers against TSU (2/13), Darby Maggard passed UT Martin's Heather Butler (392) to break the OVC career record for 3-pointers. She did so on 919 attempts, 165 fewer attempts than Butler needed in her career.
Belmont tied an NCAA-era program record with 19 made 3-pointers against EIU (2/21). The Bruins also had their second most threes in a game come this season with 17 vs. Lipscomb.
Belmont shot 60.3% from the field vs. EIU (2/21), its first game at 60% this year, and has shot at least 50% in six of its past seven games. The Bruins lead the OVC in shooting percentage at 45.1%.
MAGGARD PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Darby Maggard was named OVC Player of the Week this week on the strength of her 34-point game at Tech last Saturday. It's her first weekly honor this season and the second of her career.
13 WINS AND COUNTING
Belmont owns the longest win streak in the OVC this season having won 13 straight games by an average of 25.8 points. The Bruins won a program and OVC-record 22 straight games a year ago.
Belmont has at least 10 threes in eight straight games and is averaging 10.7 for the year, fourth most in the nation. The Bruins ranked third last year with 357 made 3-pointers, 10.2 per game.
CHINN LOGS FIRST DOUBLE-DOUBLE
Conley Chinn had 10 points and 10 rebounds vs. EIU (2/21) for her first career double-double. She's the fourth Bruin with one this year: Ellie Harmeyer (11), Maddie Wright (1) and Jenny Roy (1).
WIN THE BOARDS, WIN THE GAME
Belmont ranks first in the OVC in rebounding (41.8 rpg) and rebounding defense (34.4 rpg). Belmont is 19-0 this year when tying or out-rebounding its opponents, 2-5 in all other games.