March 17, 2007

Belmont Women Fall To Georgia In NCAA Opening Round

Experience trumped youth in the Belmont women’s basketball team’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament. The 14th seeded Bruins were unable to upset third seed Georgia on Saturday afternoon in Minneapolis.

The Bruins had a rough start to open their first NCAA Tournament appearance. Georgia opened the first meeting between the programs with an 11-0 run. Belmont finally ended its drought with a free-throw by sophomore Jessica Bobbitt (Trenton, Tenn.) at the 16:16 mark. It looked like the Bruins had shaken off their Big Dance jitters when redshirt freshman Amber Rockwell (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) trapped a UGA player in the corner after a rebound, forcing her to use a timeout. The Bruins then resorted back to using steals and turnovers to create scoring opportunities. Rookie Tereva Moore (Memphis, Tenn.) netted BU’s first field goal of the game less than 45 seconds later. Sophomore Alysha Clark (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) powered through the paint for her first points of the game with 13:58 on the clock

By the eight minute mark, the Bruins had cut the Georgia lead down to 10, 18-8. A power move in the paint by Bobbitt cut the lead to eight but the Lady Bulldogs put together an 8-0 run to expand their lead to 26-10 with under four minutes remaining before the break. Freshman Shaunda Strayhorn (Dyersburg, Tenn.) drilled both of her attempts at the charity stripe and senior Destri Bockey (Van Wert, Ohio) pushed for a jumper in the paint in the final six seconds to send the Bruins to the locker room only down, 30-18.

Clark helped to get things started for the Bruins as the second stanza opened. After a put back lay-up by junior Brittany Myers (Madison, Ind.), Clark followed with Belmont’s first three pointer of the game to move the Bruins to within eight, 34-26, with 16:05 left in regulation. Moore squared up for a jumper just inside the three-point arc that drew the Belmont faithful and new converts left over from the previous game to their feet as the team moved to within striking distance with 15 and a half left in the game.

A three-point play by Tasha Humphrey put the Lady Bulldogs back on top by 10, 39-29, with 10:40 on the clock but Bockey found the bottom of the net from the top of the key to close the gap to eight again. Two minutes later, Georgia had inched back up to a double digit advantage, 41-31. Back-to-back trips to the free throw line by the Lady Bulldogs saw them convert three of the four attempts to take an 11 point lead, 44-31, with just over six minutes left in the contest.

The Bruins slipped in a drought that lasted nearly six minutes that was finally halted with on the front half of a one-and-one by Clark with 4:06 remaining in the game. However, Georgia was only able to increase its lead to 14 points, 46-32, during the stretch. In the final minutes, the Lady Bulldogs continued to add to their point total from the free-throw line and went on to win the game, 53-36.

Georgia shot 33.3 percent (19-57) from the floor, 80 percent (12-15) from the free-throw line and an icy 18.8 percent (3-16) from behind the three-point arc. The Lady Bulldogs forced 22 Belmont turnovers and held the advantage in blocks, 7-2, steals, 13-6, and assists, 13-8.

Christy Marshall led Georgia with 11 points while Ashley Houts added 10 in the effort. Angel Robinson and Janese Hardrick pulled down six rebounds apiece. Robinson also had a game-high three blocks while Hardrck came away with a game-high five steals.

Belmont shot 20.4 percent (11-54) from the hardwood, 68.4 percent (13-19) from the charity stripe and a dismal 4.0 percent (1-25) from three-point range. The Bruins dominated in rebounds, 46-39.

Clark notched her 20th double-double of the season with a game-high 12 points and 13 rebounds. Moore also reached double digits, adding 10 points in the effort. Bobbitt collected a team-high four steals.

“I was very proud of the effort,” said Head Coach Tony Cross. “Certainly we would have liked to take care of the ball a little more, and certainly made more than one out of 25 ‘threes’. We just couldn’t put enough pressure on the offense. Our defense did a great job. We knew rebounding would be a factor, and I think we took care of that part of the game.

“Probably shooting as far as taking good shots -- that will come and go. I think this was not typical of our shooting, but our decision-making needs to be better. I am very confident in the team we had this year. We had one goal of making the NCAA Tournament and now we have that goal of going to the NCAA Tournament plus one. Belmont will be back.”

Belmont finishes its 2006-07 campaign with a 25-7 record overall and a 16-2 Atlantic Sun record.

March 16, 2007

Women's Basketball Media Day Quotes - Friday


First of all, I’m very excited. I don’t think we are here just to play, I think we are here to compete. We’ve done some things particularly this year to hopefully prepare us for this situation," said Head Coach Tony Cross.

Click here to read more quotes from Cross and Belmont players Jessica Bobbitt, Alysha Clark, Angel Jones and Destri Bockey.

Cross To Face Friend, Mentor In Landers

The Nashville City Paper reported Friday morning on the long-standing friendship between Belmont Bruins women's basketball coach Tony Cross and their NCAA tournament first-round rival, No. 14-seed Georgia Lady Bulldogs' coach Andy Landers. Click here to read the article.

Belmont Bruins v. Georgetown Hoyas - Media Coverage

"Respect Earned By Belmont" - The Danville Bee, Friday, March 16, 2007

"Belmont Can't Hang With Hoyas In Loss" - Nashville City Paper, Friday, March, 16, 2007

"Even Stopping Stars Doesn't Help Bruins" - The Tennessean, Friday, March 16, 2007

March 15, 2007

"Where Is Belmont?" - A Fan's Reflections

DSCF2874.LR.jpgThough the glass slipper may not have fit for Belmont this year, if there were a competition for the teams with the most heart, spirit and devoted fans - the Bruins would certainly be in the finals.

Coming into Tar Heel country, there was certainly a sea of sky blue in the LJVM Coliseum as so many fans were expectantly awaiting to watch their team in the evening session of the first round games in Winston-Salem. As Belmont fans filled up their corner of the arena, the sky blue began to be overtaken by a sea of red. Fans were bombarded with the same question - "Where is Belmont?"

And even though they didn't know about Belmont's spot in Nashville and growing impact nationwide, by the end of the game, though it ended in defeat, those same Tar Heel fans cheered and stood with Belmont like they have followed them for years. They knew Belmont's cheers, chants and songs and groaned with the rest of us when a bad call - in our opinions - was made against the Bruins.

As we left the arena, heads held high, proud of our men's valiant effort, we were congratulated, encouraged and high-fived for our team's performance and presence in the tournament.

At a dinner with Belmont staff, alumni and friends after the game, the group recounted their favorite moments from the day and one memory stood out for everyone. As the Georgetown Hoyas' fans were being outmatched by Belmont's growing number of fans by the minute, they began a chant - "Where is Belmont?" - with hopes of silencing the crowd. With not a moment's pause, the Belmont cheering section answered back - "What's a Hoya?" The gymnasium erupted in cheers and applause - and silenced Georgetown fans.

We still don't know what a Hoya is. But they certainly know what a Bruin is - and how proud we all are to be one.

- Amanda Wheeler, Editor, Circle Magazine

Belmont vs. Georgetown Images

Click below to view images of Belmont's effort against Georgetown earlier today.

Continue reading "Belmont vs. Georgetown Images" ...

Bruins Fall To Georgetown In NCAA Tournament


I was proud of how hard we played. I thought that our kids competed all 40 minutes. As it happens so often in athletic contests, when you play somebody that is outstanding, it makes it hard for you to do the things that you normally do. We were 6-for-26 from three and they had a lot to do with that. Even when they weren't there, it's because we knew we weren't going to get any of those wide-open looks, and we got a little anxious there. I am proud of our kids and I'm proud of our season. I offer Georgetown congratulations. They are a great basketball team, I don't think there's any question about that. Somebody will have to play awfully well to beat them, no matter who it is. - Belmont Basketball Coach Rick Byrd

Belmont Basketball had a Cinderella slipper fit and ready for wear at the ‘Big Dance.’ But after riding a sizzling, three-point bonanza to its second consecutive Atlantic Sun Championship, the Bruins’ clock struck midnight. Icy long range shooting and a talented, disciplined foe spelled an 80-55 defeat at the hands of second-seeded Georgetown in the first round of the 2007 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Belmont got off to an encouraging start, as sophomore point guard Henry Harris (Nashville, Tenn.) flew in for a tip-in basket off a missed three-pointer from sophomore Andy Wicke (Hendersonville, Tenn.) for the game’s first points one minute in.

After two free throws from Georgetown’s 7-2 center Roy Hibbert, the Bruins answered with two free throws from senior Andrew Preston (Winchester, Ky.) and a gorgeous hesitation dribble drive basket in transition from Harris for a 6-2 lead two and a half minutes in.

A backdoor slam from Dajuan Summers cut the lead in half, but a banked three-pointer from sophomore Matthew Dotson (Centerville, Tenn.) extended the Bruin edge to five, 9-4, with 16:26 in the half. Belmont, after playing almost exclusively halfcourt man-to-man defense this season, threw a wrinkle at the Big East Champion Hoyas with a variety of zone defenses.

Georgetown struggled early to find an offensive rhythm against the Bruin defense, and after a bank shot from senior Boomer Herndon (Nashville, Tenn.) dropped, Belmont had an 11-4 lead less than five minutes in. The stout Belmont following, as well as the vast majority of Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum fans were cheering on the Atlantic Sun Champions.

But the Hoya defense stiffened and Georgetown went on a systematic 11-0 run over the next five plus minutes to take the lead. Big East Player of the Year Jeff Green scored eight of the points as Georgetown went ahead 15-11. A free throw from sophomore Will Peeples (Little Rock, Ark.) ended the scoring drought, before Jessie Sapp and reserve Tyler Crawford knocked down two straight three-pointers to give the Hoyas a 21-12 advantage.

Junior Justin Hare (Cleveland, Tenn.) got on the board moments later with a triple off a nice feed from Preston, but three more Georgetown treys – five straight Hoya baskets were from long distance at one juncture late in the half - followed as the lead swelled to 12, 30-18.

Preston’s diligence down low did draw a second foul on Hibbert, who had been controlling the paint. A baseline three-pointer from Harris and consecutive putbacks from Dotson and sophomore Shane Dansby (Pegram, Tenn.) sliced the margin to seven, 32-25, with 3:14 in the half. The Bruins proceeded to have four possessions to cut further into the deficit, but were unable to do so.

Georgetown scored the final six points of the half - a Summers three-point play and a Jonathan Wallace three-pointer – to go to the locker room up 13, 38-25.

Belmont had its chances in the opening 20 minutes – but 4-for-9 free throw shooting and a 21-10 rebounding hole inhibited the cause.

Preston opened the second half in fine fashion with a baseline reverse past Hibbert to cut the margin to 11, 38-27. But the BU center picked up his third foul moments later and was forced to the Belmont bench. Georgetown proceeded to score the next eight points, four each from its two frontcourt stars Hibbert and Green to push the score to 46-27, with 17:30 left.

Preston was reinserted, and he scored again on a nice post move, but another Jessie Sapp three-pointer upped the Hoya lead to 20, 49-29, nearly five minutes into the second half. Sapp – who was 2-for-27 from three-point range in Georgetown’s previous seven games – found his touch, making four of his six long range attempts.

Hibbert, whose immense size kept possessions alive and clogged the Belmont lane, scored twice more in close to make it 53-30 with under 12 minutes to go.

After torching the nets in the Atlantic Sun Championship to the tune of 12 first half three-point field goals, BU was simply unable to order an encore performance. Wicke, in particular, so integral to Belmont’s success and the Atlantic Sun leader in three-point shooting at 46 percent, had an usually rough shooting night. The gutsy sophomore missed his first eight three-point attempts before sinking a long triple in front of the Bruin bench to make the score 64-41 with just over four minutes remaining.

Hare followed with a left wing three-pointer and Preston added a lefty hook to trim the margin to 20, 66-46, with 3:27 remaining. The Bruins fought hard irrespective of the score, getting several second and third shot opportunities. Belmont earned the respect of its opposition and the knowledgeable basketball fans of North Carolina.

But the overall size and versatility of Georgetown was the difference. Bruin fan favorite Andrew House (Nashville, Tenn.) scored in the final minute as every active player on the two teams saw action.

Belmont shot 36 percent from the floor – including 6-for-26 from three-point territory. Preston acquitted himself well in his final collegiate game, scoring a team-high 14 points on 5-for-8 shooting. Hare added 10 points.

The Bruins also outrebounded Georgetown in the second half, 20-18.

Sapp scored a career-high 20 points for the Hoyas. Green scored 15, and Hibbert chipped in 10 points and 13 rebounds.

Belmont finishes the season 23-10.

Click here
to read postgame quotes from Belmont and Georgetown players and coaches.

Belmont Fans Celebrate Pre-Game With Team

A legion of Belmont fans gathered with the pep band and cheerleaders pre-game at the team hotel, The Brookstone Inn, in Winston-Salem, N.C., to send the team to the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial (LJVM) Coliseum at Wake Forest University for the first-round matchup against Georgetown University.



March 14, 2007

Belmont Bruins Public Practice - March 14, 2007

Click below to view images of the Belmont Bruins men's basketball team's public practice on the eve of its first-round matchup against Georgetown.

Continue reading "Belmont Bruins Public Practice - March 14, 2007" ...

Belmont's Justin Hare Redefines "Team Player"

attach.jpgThe official NCAA blog, Double-A Zone featured Belmont junior guard Justin Hare this morning.

The official blog of the NCAA, the Double-A Zone ( is an open forum for discussions to take place about issues in intercollegiate athletics. Exciting and passionate conversations take place online each and every day, and the popularity of the blog has grown since its inception.

Alysha Clark of Belmont's championship women's basketball team will be features on the forum later in the week.

During his sophomore year, Belmont guard Justin Hare started all but two games for the Bruins. Hare averaged 15.6 points per contest, earned second-team all-Atlantic Sun honors, was the conference tournament MVP and led Belmont to the NCAA tournament. One year later, he is arguably the best bench player in the field of 65.

Click here
to read the Double-A Zone.

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