Men's Basketball Send-Off Party Today!
Congratulations to the Belmont Women's basketball team for winning the Atlantic Sun Conference title and first ever berth in the NCAA Championship Tournament!
Join Belmont's teams, students and fans in the Beaman Student Life Center Monday night at 6 p.m. for a viewing party of the NCAA women's basketball championship selection special. The selection show will begin at 7 p.m.
Belmont Basketball is headed to Tobacco Road. The Atlantic Sun Champion Bruins will face Big East Champion Georgetown in the first round of the 2007 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
The game will be played Thursday, March 15 from the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Tip-off time has yet to be determined.
Belmont (23-9) received the 15th seed in the East region. BU has won seven consecutive games – each by 15 or more points – including its 94-67 victory at East Tennessee State on March 3 to defend its Atlantic Sun Championship. Junior Justin Hare (Cleveland, Tenn.), who was named Atlantic Sun Tournament MVP for a second straight season, leads Belmont in scoring at 14.4 points per game. Senior Andrew Preston (Winchester, Ky.) and sophomore Andy Wicke (Hendersonville, Tenn.) joined Hare on the All-Tournament Team.
The Bruins led the Atlantic Sun Conference in scoring defense (64.0 ppg), field goal percentage defense (.387), three-point field goal percentage defense (.281), and scoring margin (+9.0).
As for 2nd-seeded Georgetown (26-6), the Hoyas have won 15 of their last 16 games including a resounding 65-42 victory over Pittsburgh Saturday in the Big East Championship. Georgetown is led by Big East Player of the Year and Tournament Most Outstanding Player Jeff Green, a versatile 6-9 junior forward who scored 51 points in the Hoyas’ last two victories.
Georgetown also sports 7-2 junior center Roy Hibbert, who averages 13 points and six rebounds per game.
The two teams did not have a common opponent this season. Belmont is 0-1 lifetime against the Big East Conference losing at Notre Dame to start the 2002-03 season.
Interestingly, Belmont and Georgetown each faced to teams who made it to the National Championship game last year. Belmont was a 15 seed in the 2006 NCAA Tournament, playing eventual National Runner-Up UCLA, while Georgetown was a 7 seed who lost a tight game to National Champion Florida in the Regional Semifinals.
The Belmont women’s basketball team’s (25-6, 16-2 A-Sun) motto all season was “One Goal: NCAA.” On Saturday, the Bruins accomplished that goal and knocked off third-seeded ETSU (20-11, 14-4 A-Sun), 69-57, in the finals of the Atlantic Sun Championship to claim their first ever conference title and advance to the NCAA Tournament.
The pace was feverish and aggressive as both teams looked to get on the board first. Freshman Shaunda Strayhorn (Dyersburg, Tenn.) put up Belmont’s first points from the charity stripe and was followed by a jumper from A-Sun All-Freshman Team selection Tereva Moore (Memphis, Tenn.). Atlantic Sun Freshman of the Year Siarre Evans nailed her first three pointer of the game to get the Lady Bucs on the board at the 18:26 mark. A trip to the free-throw line by Atlantic Sun Player of the Year sophomore Alysha Clark (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) put Belmont up, 7-3. ETSU slipped into a drought that lasted almost five minutes before TaRonda Wiles batted in the paint for a lay-up that moved the team to within two, 9-7.
Back-to-back lay-ups by Latisha Belcher knotted the score at 11 with just over eight and a half minutes remaining before the break. ETSU briefly took the lead with a jumper by Belcher but a bucket from downtown by Strayhorn put BU back on top, 16-14. Kelly Thurman was sent to the line, hitting both, to help the Lady Bucs regain the lead but sophomore Jessica Bobbitt (Trenton, Tenn.) hit a pretty spin around jumper deep in the paint to knot the game at 18 with just under five minutes left in the first half.
The teams continued the back and forth battle until the final minute of the first stanza. Bobbitt knocked down her third and fourth blocks of the half at ETSU’s end before grabbing a rebound and sending the ball down the court to set Belmont up to take the final shot of the game. Strayhorn was fouled with 20 ticks on the clock and drilled both at the line to put the Bruins ahead by three. A final shot by the Lady Bucs was wide and the teams headed into the locker rooms with Belmont up, 24-21.
Belmont finished the first half with eight blocks, just two away from tying the conference record.
Strayhorn drove to the basket with Belmont’s first possession and opened up a 9-2 run that put the Bruins up, 33-26. The Lady Bucs chipped away at the Bruins’ growing lead until they inched within three with a triple by Wiles with 13:48 remaining in the game. A three-point play by Brooke Wilhoit moved ETSU to within one but Moore hit a fall-away jumper to put Belmont back on top by three, 38-35.
Belmont blew its lead up to six, 41-35, with one of Atlantic Sun All-Freshman Team selection Amber Rockwell’s (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) trademark NBA range three pointers at the 10 minute mark. Devin Thompson made it a four point game with a pair of free throws 15 seconds later. Back-to-back jumpers by Thurman knotted the game at 41 before redshirt freshman Kristin Bunch (Fayetteville, Ga.) drilled a trey to put the Bruins back on top by one, 44-43.
With just five minutes left, BU continued to hold off the surging Lady Bucs. Clark was sent to the charity stripe three times in two minutes, hitting five of the six attempts. Clark finally was able to penetrate the paint for a lay-up without being fouled and put the Bruins up, 55-45. Belmont began to play with the clock and step up its defensive effort. With just 90 ticks left in regulation, Strayhorn nailed a monster three pointer near the top of the key to help put the game out of the Lady Bucs’ reach. A heave from deep behind the three-point arc by Wilhoit with 40 seconds left would be ETSU’s last field goal of the game. Belmont would be sent to the line four times in the last 30 seconds and go on to win the game, 69-57.
Bobbitt, Strayhorn and Clark were all named to the All-Tournament team and Clark received Most Valuable Player honors.
Belmont will await the announcement of the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee on Monday night. It will mark the first time since 1999 that the men’s and women’s teams from the same school have advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
Join the Belmont men's basketball team Sunday, March 11, in the lobby of the Beaman Student Life Center for a viewing party of the NCAA Selection Show on CBS and celebrate with them as they learn who they will play and where they will travel for the first round of the NCAA Basketball Championship Tournament.
Festivities will start at 4 p.m. and the selection show will begin at 5 p.m.