Belmont Rallies Past UT Martin To Advance To OVC Women's Final

Posted at 9:14 PM, Mar 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-03 22:15:10-05

Top-seeded Belmont erased a 12 point first half deficit with a dominant second half effort en route to a 83-62 win over UT Martin, advancing the OVC Women's Tournament final for the second consecutive year.

Sally McCabe scored a career-high 27 points on 10-15 shooting as the Bruins outscored the fourth-seeded Skyhawks 47-26 after halftime. First Team All-Conference selection Darby Maggard hit six threes and handed out seven assists as Belmont won it's 20th consecutive game.

"You talk about what you're trying to build with toughness," Belmont head coach Cameron Newbauer said. "But you don't know if it's there until you have to have it. We had to have it today and we survived and advanced."

After going 16-0 during the regular season in the OVC and cruising to a quarterfinal win over Southeast Missouri Wednesday, Belmont got a test from UT Martin. The Skyhawks shot 71 percent from the floor while building a 25-17 lead after the first quarter. The lead grew to 12 midway through the second quarter, but the Bruins responded with an 11-0 run.

McCabe sparked the run with a bucket to cut the deficit to 10 before the Bruins hit three consecutive three-point shots. Paris Lawson hit the first of her to threes off the bench, followed by back to back triples from Kylee Smith and Maggard that cut the Skyhawks lead down to one.

"I think what's great about our team is that we don't look up and freak out," Smith said. "We look up and get together. If anything (adversity) brings us together and makes us more focused."

With the game tied 36-all at the half, the Bruins went on another 13-1 run early in the third quarter behind seven points from McCabe to take control. 

The Bruins' 20 consecutive wins is the second longest streak in the country, trailing only two-time defending national champion UConn (105). 

Belmont will face no. 7 seed Eastern Kentucky in Saturday's final (2 p.m.). The Colonels pulled off their second upset in as many days, knocking off no. 3 seed Southern Illinois-Edwardsville 61-58 in the second semifinal.