By Jonathan Caudle, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Tech women's basketball suffered its first conference loss of the 2019-20 season Thursday, falling to Belmont, 59-47, snapping Tech's 11-game winning streak that dated back to Dec. 17.
The Golden Eagles move to 15-5 and 8-1 in OVC play, while the Bruins improve to 13-7 and 8-1 in conference play.
"We're disappointed in our performance, and disappointed that we didn't play better," said head coach Kim Rosamond. "Belmont did a really good job defensively, especially in the first half of taking away our first and second option offensively. Rather than staying with our execution and getting to the third and fourth option, we got frustrated and either abandoned plays or turned the ball over. Our poor first-half offensive performance was the big difference in the game. We have started games poorly for the past four home games, and it caught up with us tonight. You can't spot a team like Belmont 10 points at the half, get outrebounded 44-30 for the game, shoot 32 percent and expect to beat good teams."
Juniors Jordan Brock and Kesha Brady led the way for Tech, tallying double-digit performances with a team-high 13 and 11 points, respectively. Brock, the Golden Eagles' Special Olympics Player of the Game, went 36 percent (4-of-11) from the field, 43 percent (3-of-7) from 3-point range, and a perfect 100 percent (2-of-2) from the free throw line. She also tied for a team-high five rebounds, along with fellow junior Abby Buckner and senior Anacia Wilkinson. Wilkinson also led the Golden Eagles in blocks, tallying five in the contest.
Ellie Harmeyer was unstoppable for the Bruins, as she put up a game-high 22 points and 14 rebounds. Maura Muensterman joined her in double-figures for Belmont, scoring 17 points and collecting a team-high two steals in the contest.
"Ellie Harmeyer is the preseason Player of the Year and she showed why," said Rosamond. "She had 22 points and 14 rebounds, and that is something she does nightly. Maura Muensterman hit some huge 3-pointers, and it felt like she hit some that just really crushed us at crucial times. They are a championship program. We are working to get there, but we are not there yet. We weren't there tonight, but that doesn't mean we cannot get there with this team."
The Bruins took control of the contest from the opening tip. Belmont went on a 7-2 run over the first five minutes of play to hold a five-point lead at the opening media timeout. Tech battled with the Bruins to keep the deficit at five with 45 seconds in the period, but a Belmont layup at the three-second mark gave the Bruins a seven-point advantage after the first, 16-9.
The Golden Eagles looked to respond in the second, producing a 6-2 run from a two-point and three-point jumper from Brock and a Jada Guinn free throw to bring the game within three, 18-15, entering the final media timeout of the half. However, the Bruins took back control over the final five minutes of play, closing out the half on a 10-3 run to take a 10-point lead into the break.
Tech struggled to knock down shots in the opening half, shooting 26.1 percent (6-of-23) from the field, 18.2 percent (2-of-11) from 3-point range, and 50 percent (4-of-8) from the line. The Golden Eagles also had a hard time keeping the Bruins off the glass, falling behind in boards 21-17 over the first 20 minutes of play.
The Golden Eagles came out of the locker room gunning to even things up. Belmont knocked down a three to open the period, but the Golden Eagles produced an 11-4 run over following five minutes of clock to bring the game back within six, 35-29, halfway through the third. The Golden Eagles kept things within six until the Bruins netted a free throw with 1:53 to play. Neither team would score over the final two minutes of play as the Golden Eagles entered the final 10 minutes of play seven points from a tie game, 41-34.
Tech continued to battle with the Bruins and responded to every blow Belmont dealt to reduce the lead to six, following a Wilkinson jump shot, with 4:16 to play. However, that was as close as things would get. The Bruins closed the contest the contest on an 11-5 run to seal the Golden Eagles' defeat.
As a team, the Golden Eagles finished shooting 31.5 percent from the field, 29.2 percent from 3-point range, and 60 percent from the free throw line. The Bruins beat Tech on the glass, outrebounding the Golden Eagles 44-30. Tech did find success defensively tallying six blocks, while the Bruins couldn't block a Tech shot, and earning seven steals to Belmont's four.
"Again, credit to Belmont. They outexecuted us, and outworked us tonight," said Rosamond. "We got handed some painful lessons tonight, that we will have to take and use as growth. As disappointing as it is, this is one game. There is still a lot of important basketball left to be played. We talk all the time in our program that it's about the response. The response to success, as well as the response to adversity. This is a team full of competitors, and we will use tonight's disappointment as a way to refocus, grow and get better. We will work really hard to put a better product on the floor on Saturday against TSU."
The Golden Eagles will look to get back in the winning column on Saturday as the Tennessee State Tigers visit the Hooper Eblen Center. Tipoff is slated for 5:30 p.m.
Photo by Thomas Corhern