Belmont women’s basketball coach Bart Brooks’ 100th win will be one he’ll always remember.
The 12th-seeded Bruins upset No. 5 seed Gonzaga 64-59 on Monday in the opening round of the women’s NCAA Tournament in San Marcos, Texas. The victory is Belmont’s 11th straight and the school’s first-ever NCAA Tournament win. It’s also the first time an Ohio Valley Conference team has won an NCAA Tournament game since Tennessee Tech did so in 1990.
With a 100-25 record, Brooks ranks in the top 10 among active Division I head coaches in career winning percentage (.800).
“I’m thrilled I get to see it and experience [this win] with this group,” Brooks said. “They’ve been through so much this year and to see the experience that they just had and to come out with a win was truly a moment of a lifetime for us.”
OVC Freshman of the Year Destinee Wells had a great follow-up performance against the Bulldogs after scoring a career-high 32 points in Belmont’s OVC Tournament championship win over No. 1 seed UT-Martin.
The 5-foot-6 guard turned heads on a national stage with a game-high 25 points, seven assists, three steals and two rebounds — accounting for 39 percent of Belmont’s scoring.
“I came here to win championships and to make history, and we did that today,” Wells said. “I’m glad to see it’s paying off all the hard work we put in over the season. We’ve been through a lot. We’re grateful to be here.”
"Not a lot of people know her,” Brooks said. “The Power Five conferences and all of those bigger schools thought she was too small. There is nothing small about that young lady. There's a competitor in there that is special, and we knew it in recruiting."
Even Gonzaga head coach Lisa Fortier couldn’t deny how bright Wells’ star shined on Monday, adding: “The future is bright for the Belmont program with her at the helm.”
Madison Bartley contributed nine points for Belmont, Tuti Jones and Jamilyn Kinney added eight and Conley Chinn chipped in seven. Jones and Chinn combined for seven rebounds, while Jones had a team-high four steals.
Williamson County's Blair Schoenwald, a Brentwood Academy grad, got two minutes of game time off the bench in the win.
Jill Townsend led Gonzaga with 17 points and Leanne Wirth had 10. The Bruins held the rest of the Bulldogs to single digits and scored 25 points off 20 Gonzaga turnovers.
Belmont will look for its second upset of the tournament when it faces No. 4 seed Indiana on Wednesday in the Round of 32. The Hoosiers beat VCU 63-32 in their Round of 64 matchup on Monday.
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