The Belmont Abbey men's basketball team led for all but 18 seconds in the game, as the Crusaders outscored Mars Hill 14-5 in the final 3:50 after the Lions grabbed its first-and only-lead to snap a four game losing streak with a 93-85 victory in an afternoon matinee at the Wheeler Center before 1,000 mostly elementary and middle school students on Gaston County Schools Day. Belmont Abbey improves to 4-7, while the Lions drop to 2-8.
The victory is the Abbey's 24th in the 28 meetings in the series and the second straight.
The Crusaders led for most of the game and had the contest in control, leading by as many as 20 points in the second half. The Crusaders led 49-38 at the break and stormed out on a 15-7 run through the first 4:47 to grab a 65-45 lead.
Mars Hill fought back over the next four minutes to drop its deficit to six at 67-61, but the Abbey immediately regained its double digit lead on four straight points from Justin Kuhlman, two from the field and two more from the line, to move the Abbey's lead back to ten with 9:51 to play.
The Lions did not go away, as they outscored the Crusaders 17-8 over the next six minutes. Carter Wright gave Mars Hill its first lead of the game at 80-79 on a three-pointer with 3:50 to play, but that would be the Lions only lead of the game.
Belmont Abbey quickly seized the lead right back on its next possession on a Jonathon Garrett mid-range jumper. After a Lions turnover, Ryan Conrad widened the gap to four with a three pointer and he added a free throw after he collected a Lions steal. After yet another Mars Hill miscue-its third in as many possessions-Chris Davis sank a running layup to move the Crusaders ahead 87-80 with 2:03 left to play.
Mars Hill mustered one final charge, scoring the next five points to chop the Abbey lead down to 87-85 with 37 ticks left, but the Lions did not score again. Forced to foul, Mars Hill hacked Ray Chen, who sank both free throws to move the lead to four with 29 seconds left.
The next Lions possession came up empty, Chen grabbed the rebound, was fouled and converted both with 21 seconds showing to up the lead to 91-85.
On its final trip down the floor, Wright's contested three pointer missed and Garrett pulled down the rebound and was immediately fouled with 10 seconds left. He made both free throws to punctuate the 93-85 victory.
Belmont Abbey shot 47.2 percent as Davis led four Crusaders in double figures with 25 points. Kuhlman added a season high 19, as did Garrett, who totaled 13 in the first half. Kuhlman scored 12 in the first half. Chen added ten. Garrett posted a double double with 11 rebounds and two assists.