Belmont women rout E. Kentucky 95-63 for OVC title, NCAA
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Coach Cameron Newbauer now has to pay up on his promise. It's time to take his Belmont Bruins for ice cream.
Sally McCabe led five Bruins in double figures with 23 points and 10 rebounds, and Belmont routed Eastern Kentucky 95-63 Saturday for its first Ohio Valley Conference tournament title and second NCAA Tournament berth overall.
''We're going,'' Newbauer said of their celebration plans. ''We're going to take pictures of the trophy, we're getting blizzards and anybody can join us.''
The Bruins (24-8) have plenty to celebrate with their first tournament title since 2007 when they took the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament championship for their lone NCAA appearance until now. The same team that lost six straight earlier this season, including the first two OVC games, now has won 16 of 17 and six straight as they wait to hear where they will play next.
''It's kind of an indescribable feeling ...,'' McCabe said. ''We get to go to the NCAAs, we get to go dancing. It's just an incredible feeling and to know that your hard work has paid off is really rewarding and exciting to think about the challenge that we have on our hands next.''
Kylee Smith added 15 points, and Frankie Joubran, Lauren Thompson and Jenny Roy each had 10.
Eastern Kentucky (18-12) now is 2-3 in this game, its first since winning in 2005. Michaela Hunter led the Colonels with 16 points, Jalen O'Bannon added 15 and Shameekia Murray 14.
The Bruins scored the first five points and never trailed in leading 41-26 at halftime. They pushed that to as much as 20 in the third period before padding the margin throughout the fourth quarter as Eastern Kentucky missed 12 of its final 14 shots. The Colonels did get within 11 in the third before Belmont answered.
''We showed a lot of fight,'' Eastern Kentucky coach Chrissy Roberts said. ''But they're a good team. They're a great team. There's a reason they're 24-8 and going to the NCAA Tournament.''
Eastern Kentucky: The Colonels only got to the free throw line eight times, knocking down six. Belmont was 25 of 34 at the line. ... Roberts played on the Colonels 1997 championship team.
Belmont: The Bruins had a 34-22 edge in rebounding with 18 coming on the offensive glass. ... The Bruins had only one turnover in the first half and finished with eight. ... Belmont lost in the 2014 finals to UT Martin.
Eastern Kentucky: Offseason.
Belmont: NCAA Tournament.