Nashville, Tenn. - Trailing by six points early in the second half, the Stetson women's basketball team used a 15-5 run over the next eight and a half minutes to take its first, last and only lead it would need to claim a 70-60 win at Atlantic Sun Conference rival Belmont at the Curb Event Center Saturday afternoon. Senior forward Jessica Conner (Cocoa, Fla.) had a 22-point, 11-rebound double-double for the Hatters (10-10, 6-5 A-Sun), who snapped a six-year, 11-game losing streak against the Bruins (7-14, 4-8 A-Sun). With nine games remaining in the regular season, Stetson has already achieved its first 10-win campaign since winning the A-Sun championship in 2004-05.
Trailing 33-30 at halftime, the Hatters twice found themselves down by six in the opening minutes of the second period before going to work on what proved to be the game's only lead change. Senior guard Tierra Brown (Orlando, Fla.) scored nine of those points; her bucket at the 13:11 mark started a 9-0 spurt that officially swung momentum to the visitors.
Sophomore forward Janelle Mills (Wesley Chapel, Fla.) hit a three-pointer off a pass from classmate Simone Taylor (Delray Beach, Fla.) with 10:32 left that turned a one-point deficit into a 47-45 Hatters lead. Stetson would continue its push, sinking six free throws in a row to go up by two possessions and ultimately by double digits with just under four minutes remaining.
Belmont guard Shaunda Strayhorn knocked down her second three-pointer in as many possessions to cut the lead to 59-52 with 3:35 to go, but sophomore guard Victoria McGowan (Inkster, Mich.) answered 24 seconds later with a triple of her own to restore the 10-point cushion. The Hatters made six of eight free throws after the final media timeout and held the Bruins without a field goal thereafter until just 15 seconds remained, dousing any hopes of a Belmont comeback. Stetson has won four of its last five games and has scored 67 or more points for seven consecutive outings.
Stetson's victory over the Bruins was its first since the 2005 A-Sun quarterfinals and its first at the Curb Event Center since January 24, 2002. The two teams split the season series in 2010-11. Conner made eight of 14 field goals and was a perfect six for six from the free throw line en route to her second 22-point effort in her last four games; her scoring total was just three shy of the career high she set in a January 8 win at USC Upstate. Brown finished with 19 points while McGowan added 17 points, four assists and three steals. Taylor tied McGowan for the team lead in assists with four of her own.
Belmont guard Molly Ernst buried five three-pointers for her team-high 15 points; Shaunda Strayhorn (13 points, four assists) also reached double figures and Haley Nelson added seven rebounds.
The Hatters look for the first sweep of the Music City trip in program history at 8 p.m. ET Monday (7 p.m. local CT) when they visit Lipscomb at Allen Arena. GoHatters.com has links to Lipscomb's Live Stats while LU's A-Sun.TV broadcast will be simulcast on Hatter Vision as well.
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