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OVC Tournament semifinal preview

OVC Tournament semifinal preview

EVANSVILLE, Ind. – The Belmont women's basketball team will play for a spot in its fourth consecutive Ohio Valley Conference championship game Friday when the Bruins take on Tennessee Tech in the tournament semifinals at the Ford Center.

No. 1 seed Belmont (24-6), which topped Southeast Missouri 74-65 in the first round Wednesday, tips off at 1 p.m. in the first semifinal. Like all games at the OVC Women's Basketball Tournament, the contest can be streamed live with ESPN+ and the Watch ESPN app. An audio stream is also available through the Bruin Sports Network.

SEMO gave the Bruins all they could handle in the opening round, but Belmont now has the benefit of an extra day's rest. Fourth-seeded Tech (21-9) beat Austin Peay in first-round action played Thursday, 68-57.

Belmont is the three-time defending OVC champion with appearances in each of the past three NCAA Tournaments. The Bruins are led by the high-scoring duo of senior Darby Maggard (Larwill, Ind.) and junior Ellie Harmeyer (Kenosha, Wis.), each of whom averages better than 17 points per game this season, but all five Bruin starters average at least 9.2 points per game.

Tennessee Tech also has balanced scoring at the top with four players averaging between 12 and nine points per game. Sophomore Jordan Brock averages 12.1 points per game to lead the team with fellow sophomore Kesha Brady chipping in 10.2.

The teams split their regular-season matchups this season with each side winning on the road. Belmont won 99-67 while dropping a 77-72 decision at home that ended the Bruins' conference-record 47-game win streak.

No. 2 Morehead State and No. 3 UT Martin play in the other semifinal Friday at 3 p.m.






Belmont survived a first-round scare against SEMO, 74-65, on Wednesday. Despite being out-shot by 12 percent in the field, the Bruins' advantage at the free-throw line made the difference. Belmont shot 19-of-27 at the line; SEMO was 0-of-2.

Tennessee Tech holds the slight 27-25 advantage in the all-time series, but the rivalry has belonged to Belmont recently. The Bruins are 11-1 in the past 12 games. Belmont had won 10 in a row priorto the 77-72 loss to the Golden Eagles at home in January.

Belmont's loss to Tech on Jan. 5 snapped a 47-game win streak vs. OVC opponents that dated back to 2016, the second longest conference winning streak in the nation at the time. Belmont avenged the loss in February on the road, 99-67, and has now won 63 of its past 65 games against conference opponents.

Belmont has qualified for the OVC Tournament in all seven of its seasons as a conference member and won at least one game in each of those appearances after Wednesday's victory. The Bruins have never been eliminated shy of the OVC semifinals.

Belmont's fourth-year senior class is undefeated in its career in the OVC Tournament so far with a perfect 10-0 record.

With her first point against SEMO (3/6), senior Jenny Roy became the 31st player in Belmont program history to reach 1,000 career points. She is the first player in OVC history to reach 1,000 points (1,005 now), 800 rebounds (874) and 400 assists (475) in a career.

Senior Darby Maggard needs just six points to reach 2,000 for her career. She will become just the fourth player in program history and the 19th in OVC history to reach 2,000 points.