NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Belmont women's basketball team held a pair of celebrations Saturday. The first before tipoff was reserved for the four seniors who were playing in their final game at the Curb Event Center. The second came after the buzzer as the Bruins clinched yet another Ohio Valley Conference title.
Belmont's 87-54 victory over SIU Edwardsville on Homecoming means the Bruins are the outright regular-season OVC champions for a third straight year. Belmont (22-5, 15-1 OVC) will now be the No. 1 seed at the upcoming OVC Tournament, which begins March 6 in Evansville, Ind.
Saturday's win was Belmont's 13th in a row and the 104th of this senior class's outstanding four-year career. The Bruins recognized seniors Hannah Harmeyer, Paris Lawson, Darby Maggard and Jenny Roy prior to the victory.
"I was just speechless," Roy (Brentwood, Tenn.). "We've been battling every day for four years. Those are my sisters, and they know how much has gone into this. To hear the crowd erupt, it's just a testament to this team, how much we've been able to accomplish together and how exciting the rest of this season can be."
Harmeyer (Kenosha, Wis.) and Lawson (Murfreesboro,) both drew their first career starts in the game, which the Bruins began to run away with after halftime. Belmont continues to play its best basketball of the season.
BU scored 53 points in the second half, the third straight outing in which the Bruins have logged a 50-point half. Belmont shot 53.3 percent from the field, the team's six time in seven games shooting better than 50 percent, and the Bruins also knocked down 10 3-pointers for an ninth straight contest.
The game even wound to a storybook conclusion for the team's three active seniors. Each made the final shot of their careers at the Curb before being subbed out of the game to a standing ovation.
"We ran a play for Darby, ran a play for Jenny and we ran a play for me, and after each of those plays we made our shots. It was just an awesome way to go out," Harmeyer said.
Maggard's (Larwill, Ind.) final shot, her 409th career made 3-pointer, gave her a game-high 22 points. Roy's last layup upped her game total to 13 points; she added six rebounds and five assists.
Junior Ellie Harmeyer (Kenosha, Wis.) scored 12 points with eight rebounds, and junior Maddie Wright (Chattanooga, Tenn.) chipped in 12 more. Freshman Conley Chinn (Jackson, Miss.) grabbed 10 rebounds for the second straight game, the only two double-digit rebounding performances of her career.
The Bruins aren't on to the postseason just yet. Belmont closes the regular season with two road games next week: Thursday at UT Martin and Saturday at Southeast Missouri. Belmont will look to continue its surge to close out OVC games before turning its attention to the tournament.
"Coach Bart (Brooks) told us, emotion is great but that will only last for the first few minutes," Roy said. "Really it comes down to discipline and that's something that we tried to play with today and we'll take on the road with us next week. We still have a lot more to accomplish."