CINCINNATI - Trailing by two points with 1:25 remaining, senior Shelly Bellman sunk a clutch corner 3-pointer and broke out with a huge grin that said it all.
Cincinnati ended a 13-game slump that dated back to Jan. 5, with a 65-62 upset over No. 20 Marquette on Monday at Fifth Third Arena.
"We can't stop smiling," senior Shareese Ulis said. "It's been a long season. We showed games where we could come out and compete with teams who were ranked. We saw games where we could come out and lose by 30 or 40 points. We know that we can compete. It's just a matter of putting together a complete 40-minute game. Tonight we did that."
Bellman scored the Bearcats' (9-19, Big East 2-14) final five points with last two coming from the charity stripe to extend their lead. The veteran didn't think twice about her biggest shot of the season prior to the free throws.
"To be honest I had no idea there was a minute left in the game," Bellman said. "I was just so into the game. And as I was running back on defense and looked up at the scoreboard."
Senior Shareese Ulis blocked the potential game-tying shot on the Golden Eagles' (22-7, 10-6) final possession to seal the win.
It was second-year head
coach Jamelle Elliott's first win over a ranked opponent.
Elliott embraced her fourth-year players at midcourt following the victory.
"It was just all love," Elliott said. "I wanted to get to my two seniors because this was their night. My pregame speech was look, 'play as hard as you can for the two guys who this is going to be their last game on [their home] floor.' I had them look around the room because the next time we sit in [our locker room], there is going to be two very important guys that are not going to be apart of [it]."
Ulis knocked down a career-high six 3-pointers on 12 attempts for a game-best 20 points. Bellman contributed 12 points, eight assists and eight rebounds, nearly accounting for a triple-double. Junior Bjonee Reaves added to the UC long-range onslaught going 4-7 with 12 points.
The Bearcats finished 44.8 percent from 3-point line while netting 13, their most in three years. UC hit the 60-point plateau for the first time in 16 contests.
With the score knotted at 38, Ulis drilled back-to-back buckets from distance and Reaves followed suit with two 3-pointers for a slim 50-48 lead at the halfway point of the closing period.
The two squads traded baskets for the next seven minutes; there were eight lead changes in the second half. Golden Eagle guard Tatiyiana McMorris, who had a team-best 18 points, then nailed a triple to put her team up by four with 2:54 left.
UC answered with a Jeanise Randolph layup and execution on both ends in the final two minutes.
"My team deserved this win tonight," Elliott said. "They could have easily packed it in two weeks ago, three weeks ago and said 'Look I can't wait for this season to be over. This losing streak sucks, I don't want to work hard, I don't want to play hard, I don't want to compete hard.' And none of that ever snuck into my team at any point."
Bellman, Chisholm and Ulis poured in three-straight shots from distance to give
UC a seven-point edge, its largest of the game, at the 2:31 mark of the first half after trailing by three.
"Hopefully today we learned how to win," Elliott said. "Getting down against a top-20 team in the country, having to fight back. I told [my team], 'Remember this feeling, remember this feeling, because I want to have this feeling, when we get back in conference play next year, more than two times.' "