Belmont women top UT Martin 59-53, 4th straight NCAA berth

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              Belmont's Maddie Wright (55) fight to keep control of the floor ball as UT Martin's Brittni Moore (15) tries to get it away from her during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the championship of the Ohio Valley Conference basketball tournament, Saturday, March 9, 2019, in Evansville, Ind. (AP Photo/Daniel R. Patmore)
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Ellie Harmeyer scored 16 points, freshman Conley Chinn hit a clutch 3-pointer with 1:07 to play and Belmont defeated Tennessee-Martin 59-53 on Saturday for its fourth-straight Ohio Valley Conference tournament title and NCAA Tournament berth.

Harmeyer’s basket to open the fourth quarter capped a 13-2 run that gave the Bruins (26-6) a 44-35 lead. Defense and just enough offensive ensured Belmont’s sixth trip to the NCAAs. Harmeyer had nine points in the fourth, including a 3-pointer that pushed the lead to six with 4:08 to play. Chinn’s 3-pointer came late in the shot clock and again put the lead at six, 57-51.

“When we didn’t have our best stuff on offense, we rebounded, we competed, we made it tough for other guys to score,” second-year Belmont coach Bart Brooks said. “That wins the day when it comes to March.”

Chinn and Maddie Wright both had nine points and combined for 15 rebounds. Tournament MVP Jenny Roy had eight points, surpassing 1,000 for her career, and 11 rebounds for top-seeded Belmont. Darcy Maggard, the OVC player of the year, was limited to six points in the game after she surpassed 2,000 for her career.

Chelsey Perry had 16 points for the third-seeded Skyhawks (23-9), who beat Belmont 71-68 in overtime in the regular-season finale. Emanye Robertson and Brittni Moore had 13 points apiece. Robertson, the OVC defensive player of the year, helped limit Maggard to 2-of-9 shooting. However, Robertson, UT Martin’s leading scorer at just under 12 a game, was held to just four free throws entering the fourth quarter.

Belmont, which won the first meeting 108-86 in January, beat the Skyhawks in the title game last year, 63-56 in overtime. The last time one of these two teams was not in the championship game was 2010 as UT Martin won four straight titles from 2011-14, beating Belmont in the last two.

The Skyhawks took a 33-31 lead on a 3-pointer by Moore midway through the third quarter, but Harmeyer’s layup tied the game and started the key run, which included a long, shot-clocking beating 3 by Maggard.

UT Martin shot just 27 percent but made 14 of 15 free throws and had just five turnovers. Belmont shot 38 percent but was only 10 of 18 from the foul line, missing seven in the second half.