No. 22 Belmont women rally to win OVC in OT, make NCAA

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Julie McCabe had 19 points and 10 rebounds and No. 22 Belmont hit two 3-pointers in the last 15 seconds of regulation before pulling away in overtime to beat Tennessee-Martin 63-56 on Saturday to win the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament and became the first team to qualify for the NCAA Women’s Tournament.

Belmont (31-3) never led in the second half but stayed alive by getting 3-pointers from Maura Muensterman with 14.6 seconds to go and Darby Maggard at 4.5 seconds. The Bruins even got the final possession after forcing a five-second count on the inbound but didn’t get off a last shot.

Kylee Smith and Maggard both scored 15 points as the Bruins ran their winning streak to a school record 22 games. They’ve beaten OVC opponents 46 straight. McCabe also had four blocks to tie the school career record of 287.

Smith opened overtime with a layup and McCabe followed with a pair of free throws. Following a UT Martin bucket, McCabe made a tough left-handed hook before Maggard’s 3 iced it.

Janekia Mason, had 23 points and 13 rebounds for the second-seeded Skyhawks (19-14), who missed their last three shots in regulation and first five in overtime.

Belmont trailed 50-46 and after an airball with 34.2 seconds to go had to foul twice to send the Skyhawks to the line. Mason made two free throws for UT Martin with 32.4 remaining and Maggard quickly answered with a short jumper.

Myah Taylor made two clutch free throws, her only points of the game with 25.6 seconds left in regulation for a 54-48 lead for the Skyhawks. Smith had a short shot rim out but Belmont kept the ball on a tie-up for the rebound. Muensterman then hit a trey from the top of the key on the inbounds play.

After advancing the ball with a timeout, the Skyhawks went over the top to Chelsey Perry for a layup but Jones made a block from behind. Maggard tied the game from the right wing. With 54 points in regulation, the Bruins were just one better than their season low in a loss to Stanford.

Belmont led 16-13 after one quarter but UT Martin, which lost the regular season meeting 65-63 at home, was up 28-27 at the half. A 9-0 run in the third quarter had the Skyhawks on top 38-29 but Smith scored the last seven points of the quarter, beating the buzzer with a 3, and the Bruins went into the fourth quarter down 38-36.

Maggard was named MVP of the tournament and was joined on the all-tournament team by Smith, McCabe, Perry and Mason.

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