The 2020-21 Women’s Basketball team secures its spot in Belmont history with the first-ever NCAA Tournament program win.
An epic upset. A legendary season.
Belmont’s women’s basketball team wrote its name in the record books this year despite having to overcome countless hardships, including 11 games that were canceled or postponed due to weather or COVID-19 protocols.
The Bruins completed a challenging season with a 17-5 record that included wins over Auburn and MTSU and entered the OVC Tournament as the No. 2 seed. Following victories over Austin Peay and Murray State, they beat top-seeded UT Martin 83-75. Freshman guard Destinee Wells led the way with 32 points, an effort that earned her the OVC All-Tournament MVP honor. Overall, the Bruins shot 54 percent from the field to claim the OVC Tournament Championship and punch their NCAA Tournament ticket.
“This is extremely special considering all our team had to overcome this season,” said head coach Bart Brooks about the win. “The poise and resiliency our players showed the last month of the season was on full display in the OVC Championship… What excites me most about our team is our approach, how we will embrace the challenge of this week and how hungry we are to achieve more.”
Brooks, who was named the Tennessee Sports Writers Association (TSWA) Coach of the Year, was about to see just how hungry his young team was. The Bruins were named a No. 12 seed and traveled to Texas to play No. 5 seed (and No. 13 ranked!) Gonzaga in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament. While the Bruins had a slow start, they turned it around to take a one-point lead heading into half-time.
Though the Bulldogs would put up a fight, the Bruins refused to surrender their lead, ultimately securing a 64-59 upset and recording the first-ever NCAA Tournament win in Belmont women’s basketball history. The game also marked Brooks’ 100th career victory as a head coach, ranking him in the Top 10 in the nation in winning percentage among his NCAA D-1 coaching peers.
The historic run would stop at the NCAA round of 32, where the Bruins encountered the tough No. 4 seed Indiana Hoosiers. But the final defeat couldn’t detract from an extraordinary season that saw this team earn its fifth conference tournament championship in six years and become the first OVC women’s team to win an NCAA Tournament game since 1990.