By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
EVANSVILLE, Ind. – When you have as tough of a game as the Tennessee Tech women's basketball team had in the Ohio Valley Conference championship game on Saturday at the Ford Center, sometimes you just have to shrug it off, look forward and work toward tomorrow.
In a game that started as a defensive slugfest with points at a premium, Belmont pulled away in the second half as the Golden Eagles went cold, hitting just one of 11 shot attempts in the fourth quarter – a 3-pointer by Maaliya Owens with 12 seconds left standing as the only successful try in the period.
By that time, the game was all but confirmed for the Bruins as they claimed the OVC's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament with a 51-29 victory on Saturday afternoon.
Of course, there is always a tomorrow – a postseason bid is still up for grabs, even if it doesn't fall under the NCAA bracket. Those will be revealed following the conclusion of the remaining conference tournaments over the next week.
Over the first 20 minutes, neither team was scoring a lot of points, but that was to be expected against two teams with strong defensive efforts. Tech led by three points midway through the first quarter, then went on a 7-0 run in the early moments of the third quarter to tie the game at 17 and take a 19-17 lead before the first minute was off the clock as Megan Clark drained a 3 and Jada Guinn hit a layup.
That was also before Belmont caught fire. The Bruins went on a 9-0 run with eight points from tournament MVP Destinee Wells. She finished the game with 22 points on 10-of-23 shooting, the only player in the game to score in double figures. Sixteen of those points came in the second half. Following the 21-12 outburst in the third, Belmont didn't look back.
How stingy were the defenses early on? The two teams combined for 12-of-56 shooting from the floor. Both teams had success this season from long range, but the Golden Eagles were 3-for-18 from 3, Belmont 6-for-21. Tech held a slim advantage on the boards, 42-38, with the Golden Eagles collecting 19 offensive boards – seven more than the Bruins. Belmont also ended the game with eight blocks, five for the Golden Eagles.
Mackenzie Coleman led the Golden Eagles (20-10) with seven points and eight rebounds, while Clark had six. Jones and Owens each had five points, while Jones had a team-high 10 rebounds.
Jones and Anna Walker, who had a strong game against Murray State in the semifinal, were both named to the all-tournament team. Walker had seven rebounds and two points in the finale.
Madison Bartley and Blair Schoenwald each had six points for the Bruins (22-7). Bartley also had nine rebounds, while Tuti Jones had eight.