Winners of 39 consecutive Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) games, the Belmont Bruins on Monday became the first school from the conference to crack the Associated Press Top 25 poll since 1992, earning NCAA.com Team of the Week honors.
Belmont, 24-3 and 14-0 in the OVC, earned a No. 24 national ranking, becoming the first OVC women's basketball program to crack the Top 25 since Tennessee Tech (12/22/92). The Bruins have earned national poll votes for six consecutive weeks. Their 53 votes, up from 28 a week ago, are the most that the program has ever received from a national poll. It’s the first time in Belmont's NCAA Division I era that any program has earned a national ranking, in either the AP or USA Today Coaches Poll.
Belmont’s two wins last week over Tennessee State (87-70) and Tennessee Tech (68-60) stretched the Bruins’ OVC winning streak to what is now the second-longest streak in the nation, ranking behind only No. 1 UConn, which has won 94 straight conference games. The Bruins have gone 728 days since their last conference loss. Belmont's current 15-game winning streak is the fifth-longest active streak in the nation.
The latest win over Tennessee Tech on Feb. 10 was fueled by senior guard Kylee Smith who led the way with 26 points and 11 rebounds. The veteran was backed by senior Sally McCabe and junior Darby Maggard, who poured in 12 and 11 points, respectively. With her 12 points, McCabe became Belmont's Division I era leading scorer bringing her career point total to 1,423. The mark surpasses Amber Rockwell's 1,418 (2006-10).
Belmont ranks top 10 nationally in seven statistical categories, and is the only program in America so ranked in 3-point field goals made, rebounds, and assist-to-turnover ratio. The Bruins are 13th nationally in scoring margin (+17.4) and in select company of NCAA Division I programs featuring three active career 1,000 point scorers (McCabe, Smith and Maggard).Notable Bruin victories this season include triumphs over nationally-regarded Gonzaga and Florida Gulf Coast in the Play4Kay Showcase, and a 111-74 victory at Southeastern Conference stalwart Vanderbilt – the most points ever scored against a Commodore squad.
Belmont, the two-time defending OVC champion and NCAA tournament automatic qualifier in 2017, is one of four teams in the country to have reached the 24-win plateau. The Bruins next host Eastern Kentucky on Feb. 15.