Nashville, TN — On this surprisingly warm Thursday afternoon in Nashville, the mood was definitely lifted at the Curb Event Center where the No. 24 Belmont Bruins faced off against the Eastern Kentucky University Colonels, who they defeated by 22 points last time the two teams faced off.
Belmont (25-3), who recently scored their first-ever Top 25 bid, proved that the earlier whomping was not a fluke, easily handling the Colonels (8-16) 95-62.
At the beginning of the game, Belmont’s Jenny Roy stole the ball from Eastern Kentucky and ran it back for an early layup, instantly getting the crowd amped -- and igniting her team to separate from its opponent.
Belmont had a good run in the first quarter, punishing Eastern Kentucky from behind the arc. Kylee Smith led her team with 11 points during the first frame, making three 3-pointers. The first ended with Belmont leading, 29-21.
Belmont's Jenny Roy, who finished with a game total of 10 rebounds, was on a mission with her rebounds this evening. She was determined to get that ball in her hands and away from the Colonels. By the end of the second, Roy already had six rebounds.
Eastern Kentucky went into halftime trailing by a whopping 22 points (55-33), and Belmont showed no signs of giving mercy.
The Colonels’ Abby Wright was leading her team with 12 points at the half, but her teammates were going to have to step it up in the second half if they wanted to come near the merciless Bruins. Her teammate Shay Solomon, who had a game total of five assists, was fired up after the half and immediately came back shooting attempting to erase Eastern Kentucky’s deficit.
However, Belmont's dynamic duo, Kylee Smith (23 pts) and Darby Maggard (26 pts, 6-9 3ptrs), stole the show and kept Eastern Kentucky out of arms' reach.
“When they’re making shots they’re as good as anyone in the country,” explained Belmont head coach, Bart Brooks. "Tonight they made some really big shots for us to get us rolling.”
As the two teams entered the final stanza of play, the Bruins were up 76-48 thanks to the play of Smith and Maggard.
“We had a little bit of a spurt in the third quarter where we didn’t have as much energy as we should have," Maggard said. "But other than that I thought that we really brought our focus, brought our energy and we shared the ball really well today."
Coming back 28 points in one period seemed like an unrealistic task to ask any team, but that didn’t stop the momentum of the Colonels. Belmont had a different plan, though, as they were looking to widen that already-humongous gap even more.
The points didn’t slow down for the Bruins and Eastern Kentucky began to feel the defeat setting in. Ultimately Belmont's massive lead was too much to overcome for the Colonels, as they lost by 33 points, 95-62.
Belmont will get a chance to add to their record-breaking season on Saturday when they tip off against Morehead State. With tonight’s win, the Bruins also clinched at least a shared of the Ohio Valley Conference regular-season title.