Notebook: Belmont clinches top seed in OVC tournament


Dillan Schorfheide

Morehead State’s Miranda Crockett, the OVC’s second leading scorer (17.7 ppg) throws a pass in her team’s win over Eastern on Feb. 2. Morehead State (11-5) is in a three-way tie for second place in the conference.

JJ Bullock, Sports Editor

Just a few months ago, it was nice to think even for a little bit, that there was at least a glimmer of a hope that someone other than the Belmont women’s basketball team would win the Ohio Valley Conference regular season. It was nice to think that indeed. (Emphasis on ‘was’).

Belmont, after beating Eastern on Thursday and Southern Illinois Edwardsville on Saturday improved its record to 15-1 and … sigh … once again clinched the OVC regular season title.

Belmont began its conference schedule 1-1 after losing to Tennessee Tech on Jan. 5. Tennessee Tech began its conference schedule 6-0 and for just a short while, there was a faint, distant possibility that someone may have finally arrived to dethrone Belmont.

But as quickly as the hope appeared, it disappeared. Belmont has won 14 games in a row since losing to Tennessee Tech and also beat Tennessee Tech 99-67 on Feb. 16 to even further cement that the Bruins are still top dog in the conference.

Tennessee Tech on the other hand has fallen to 11-5 in conference play and is in a three-way tie for second-place with Tennessee-Martin and Morehead State.

The Golden Eagles have faltered as of late and are just 3-3 in their last six games, losing to Belmont, Morehead State and Southeast Missouri.

Tennessee Tech’s quest for the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament is relatively easy, when compared to Morehead State’s and Tennessee-Martin’s, the Golden Eagles travel on the road to play Southern Illinois Edwardsville (7-9) on Thursday and Eastern (4-12) on Saturday.

Morehead State will not have that bumpy of a road either headed into the conference tournament, as it also goes on the road to play Murray State (8-8) on Thursday and will look at almost a sure win in a Saturday game against Eastern Kentucky (0-16).

Tennessee-Martin is certainly looking at the schedules of Tennessee Tech and Morehead State with a twinge of jealousy as the Skyhawks have a date with Belmont (15-1) on Thursday and follow that up with a matchup against Tennessee State (5-11) on Saturday.

Tennessee Tech, Tennessee-Martin and Morehead State should fill out the conference’s 2-4 seeds barring one of them goes winless this weekend and Austin Peay (9-7) wins out, in which case there would be a tiebreaker situation needed for the No. 4 seed.

Austin Peay should begin the weekend with a win on Thursday over Eastern Kentucky on the road, leaving the Governors’ Saturday matchup with Murray State (8-8) all the more pivotal.

Murray State is deadlocked with Jacksonville State at 8-8 in conference play. Jacksonville State play Eastern on Thursday and Southern Illinois Edwardsville (7-9) on Saturday.

Murray State, Jacksonville State, Southern Illinois Edwardsville and Southeast Missouri are four teams competing for three tournament spots. Murray State and Jacksonville State both have the upper-hand in record in those point which means it’s likely up to Southern Illinois Edwardsville and Southeast Missouri to break the tie themselves.

Southeast Missouri plays Tennessee State (5-11) on Thursday and, to the woe of the Redhawks, follows that with a season finale against Belmont on Saturday.

Southern Illinois Edwardsville plays Tennessee Tech on Thursday and Jacksonville State on Saturday.

Tennessee State is still technically alive in the conference race; the Tigers would need to win out and both Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois Edwardsville have to lose out for Tennessee State to have a shot at the tournament.

Eastern and Eastern Kentucky are both out of tournament contention.

JJ Bullock can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]