By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – It's an Ohio Valley Conference showdown on Saturday afternoon as the Tennessee Tech women head to Nashville to take on the league-leading Belmont Bruins at the Curb Event Center.
Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. Dylan Vazzano will handle broadcast duties on 106.1 The Eagle, while Rich Tiner, Ellie Harmeyer and Hanley Riggs will cover the game on ESPN+ (subscription required).
There's no question that Belmont is a daunting opponent. Bruins head coach Bart Brooks is 70-7 against OVC completion in his five seasons at the helm and Belmont is 105-8 in its last 113 OVC contests, regular-season and tournament.
But it is possible to win there. The Tech women know that. Flash back to January 5, 2019, as the Golden Eagles earned a win at the Curb Event Center, topping Belmont 77-72.
Belmont lost at home earlier this season to SEC foe Auburn, and you have to go back to February 9 of last year for its last home conference loss – a defeat at the hands of Southeast Missouri. Murray State also won at the Curb last season.
The Bruins enter Saturday's contest with a 10-5 record – all five of those losses coming in non-conference play. Belmont is a perfect 6-0 in OVC play this season, knocking off SIUE (87-49), Eastern Illinois (71-57), Southeast Missouri (85-65), Austin Peay (65-46), Murray State (67-52) and Morehead State (103-50) in succession. The 6-0 start to league play also matches the Bruins' current winning streak.
In OVC play only, Belmont is averaging a score of 79.7 to 53.2 – a 26-point difference. Murray State has been the closest, falling by 15.
In those same contests, the Bruins are shooting .474 from the floor, .355 from 3-point range with 59 3-pointers made to 25 allowed and .758 at the free-throw line. Belmont has outrebounded its OVC foes 39.3 to 31.8, dished out 122 assists to 49 against, turned the ball over 85 times to 115, blocked 28 shots to six against and stolen the ball 69 times to having it taken away 37 times. The average rebound margin is 7.5 and turnover margin is 5.5. Needless to say, those are substantial numbers.
Tech is no slouch though. Even with the two blemishes on the conference slate, the Golden Eagles are shooting .453 from the floor, .343 from 3-point range with 37 makes and 22 allowed and .796 from the charity stripe. Tech has outrebounded opponents 34.0 to 29.7 and has 24 blocks to nine blocked.
Belmont's strength lies in having several players that can wreak havoc in multiple phases of the game. Destinee Wells leads Belmont in scoring, averaging 15.8 points and collecting a team-best 69 assists. Madison Bartley is averaging 12.4 points and 4.7 rebounds, while blocking 19 shots. Tuti Jones is also averaging 11.3 points a game with 3.6 rebounds a night, 49 assists and a team-best 43 steals. Conley Chinn leads the team in rebounding with 4.9 boards a game, while averaging 7.5 points. Jamilyn Kinney also has 45 assists and 19 steals with 3.3 points and 3.5 rebounds per game.
The Bruins topped Ole Miss in the second game of the season, and their five losses – Georgia Tech, UCF, Arkansas, Louisville and Auburn – were against teams that were ranked or receiving votes.
Belmont isn't the only multi-faceted team though. Mackenzie Coleman leads Tech (9-7, 4-2 OVC) in scoring, averaging 12.1 points and 5.5 rebounds, while Anna Jones is averaging 10.4 points and 6.1 rebounds. Coleman leads the conference in blocks with 21 and Jones has 36 assists and 21 steals. Jada Guinn is just under the double-digit scoring average with 9.8 points and 5.1 rebounds per game, leading Tech in assists with 58 and steals with 26. Anna Walker has 10 blocks with an 8.9-point average.
Tech has won back-to-back games and seven of its last nine games.
Following Saturday's matchup, the Golden Eagles will return home for a makeup contest against Eastern Illinois at the Eblen Center on Monday night. Tipoff for that game is scheduled for 6 p.m.
Tickets for Tennessee Tech basketball are on sale. Call (931) 372-3940, visit the Eblen Center ticket office or visit TTUsports.com to order.
Photo | Jim Dillon