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Belmont freshman Destinee Wells torches Gonzaga in big NCAA women's tournament upset

Jason Owens
·2-min read

After a chalk-filled opening Sunday, upsets are piling up in Day 2 of the NCAA women's tournament.

No. 12 seed Belmont claimed the third high-seed victim of the day Monday with a 64-59 upset of No. 5 seed Gonzaga. The win followed up No. 13 seed Wright State's win over No. 4 seed Arkansas and No. 11 seed BYU topping No. 6 seed Rutgers.

Gonzaga looked well on its way to the second round early, opening up a 22-13 lead through the first quarter. But the Bruins bounced back in the second quarter to go into halftime with a 33-32 edge as OVC Freshman of the Year Destinee Wells led the charge. They extended their lead to eight points through the third quarter and fended off a late Bulldogs rally with big buckets and free throws down the stretch.

The win was Belmont's 11th straight and its first ever in the NCAA tournament.

Destinee Wells, right, celebrates with Cam Browning, left, after Belmont's win over Gonzaga in a college basketball game in the first round of the women's NCAA tournament at the University Events Center in San Marcos, Texas, Monday, March 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Gonzaga had no answers for Destinee Wells (right). (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Huge day for Belmont freshman

Wells dominated with 25 points, seven rebounds and three steals. In fact, she was the only Bruin to crack double figures in scoring. The 5-foot-6 guard was easily the best player on the floor on Monday while setting a school record for points in an NCAA tournament game. She also put a stop to a late Gonzaga rally that threatened to turn the tide in the Bulldogs' favor.

Belmont extended its lead to 54-44 at the start of the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs rallied back with an 8-1 run to cut the Bruins lead to 55-52 in the final four minutes, holding Wells off the scoreboard in the process. But Wells broke free on a screen from the top of the key and scored a layup in traffic to stop the bleeding and extend the cushion to 57-52 with 3:39 remaining.

Gonzaga never got closer than two points from there as Belmont had a response for every Bulldogs bucket down the stretch.

Turnovers doom Gonzaga

Gonzaga was the better shooting team by a wide margin, connecting on 54.8% of its shots while Belmont shot 41.4% from the floor. Gonzaga also held a whopping 37-18 edge in rebounds.

But turnovers doomed Gonzaga. Belmont recorded 11 steals and forced 20 Gonzaga turnovers while giving up the ball just six times. Jill Townsend led the late Gonzaga rally en route to a 17-point, six-rebound effort. But it wasn't enough to fend off the upset.

Belmont advances to play No. 4 seed Indiana in the second round.

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