The Belmont Abbey men's basketball team opened the second half on a 16-9 run to erase a 43-40 halftime deficit, but Johnson C. Smith used a late run to pull away with a 91-80 victory this afternoon at the Wheeler Center. The Golden Bulls improve to 9-2, while the Crusaders enter the two week Christmas break with a mark of 4-8.
Belmont Abbey never led in the first half and trailed by as many as 11. The Crusaders gradually cut into the Golden Bulls lead inched it down to one three times, the last coming at 41-40 on a Chris Davis layup with 31 seconds left, but Emilio Parks capped off his 18 point first half on a layup with five seconds left to extend the Golden Bulls lead to three at the break.
The Crusaders opened the second half with a sense of urgency, as they scored 16 of the first 15 points in the half to seize their first lead of the game.
Johnson C. Smith scored the first four points of the stanza, but the Abbey countered by scoring 12 of the next 15, capped off by a running layup from Davis at the 14:47 mark to put the Abbey on top for the first time at 54-52.
The Golden Bulls next possession came up empty and Darryl Durham widened the gap to four when he grabbed his own miss and converted the layup off the glass.
After a Golden Bulls basket, a free throw from Ray Chen deadlocked the game at 57 with 12:06 to go. The two teams traded leads on the next two possessions, as Justin Kuhlman answered a Robert Williams layup with a three-pointer.
Two minutes later, a pair of Davis free throws extended the lead to three, but Johnson C. Smith pulled away for good by scoring the next eight points to seize control of the game, taking a 67-62 lead with 8:02 to play.
While the Golden Bulls offense gained momentum, the Abbey's stalled as the Crusaders went more than six minutes between field goals as Johnson C. Smith extended its lead to 13 at 81-68 with 2:38 to play.
The Crusaders mounted one final charge, as it dropped a 14 point deficit down to seven after it was forced to foul, and the Golden Bulls obliged by missing their free throws. Three free throws by Chen closed the deficit to 87-80 with 21 ticks left, but the Golden Bulls scored the final four points to earn the win.
Belmont Abbey shot 46 percent from the field as Davis led five players in double figures with 22 points. He missed posting a double double by one rebound. Jonathon Garrett posted his second double double in as many games with 12 points and 11 rebounds to go along with three assists. Durham also had a double double with 16 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Chen added 13 and Kuhlman netted 12 and three assists.