Trailing 35-31 at the half, the Belmont Abbey men's basketball team outscored Pfeiffer 49-43 in the second half, taking the lead midway through the period and never letting it go, to post an 80-78 win over the visiting Falcons this evening at the Wheeler Center. The victory, the Crusaders second-straight, improves the record to 6-8 overall and evens the conference mark at 2-2, while the Falcons drop to 3-10 overall and 0-4 in league play.
Belmont Abbey converted all six of its free throws in the final 20 seconds to seal the win.
The Crusaders bolted out to a 9-4 lead and held the advantage for most of the first half-building a lead that rose to as high as eight-before the Falcons closed the period on a 13-7 run to build a 35-31 lead. Pfeiffer's lead rose to seven at 35-28 with 40 seconds left, but a traditional three-point play from Justin Kuhlman seven seconds later, dropped the Abbey's deficit to just four.
Belmont Abbey opened the second half on fire, embarking on a 13-6 run over the first 7:15, capped off by a three-pointer from Kuhlman, to give the Crusaders a lead they would never relinquish, but the Falcons would not go away.
Pfeiffer closed the lead to one point four different times, the last coming with 33 seconds left at 74-73 on two Mike Smith free throws.
Forced to foul, Pfeiffer hacked Kuhlman, who sank both free throws to up the lead to 76-73 with 20 ticks left.
Eight seconds later, Kuhlman fouled AJ Clark, who went to the line for two shots. He missed both, however and Chris Davis pulled down the rebound, the last of his five on the night. Three seconds later he was fouled and he converted both from the line to give the Abbey a five point lead at 78-73.
Clark gave the Falcons one last hope when he sank a running layup in the lane with four seconds left to trim the defict to 78-75, but Kuhlman was fouled on the inbounds play. He sank both to seal the game at 80-75. Smith closed the scoring when he banked a half court shot to make the final 80-78.
Davis led four Crusaders in double figures with 22 points on eight of 15 shooting from the field. Kuhlman added 17, 11 in the second half to go along with six assists, five rebounds and a steal. Darryl Durham and Ryan Conrad both totaled 14. Durham notched a double double with a game-high ten rebounds. He also blocked two shots and had two assists.
The Crusaders shot 44 percent from the field and 38 percent from three-point range. The defense forced 17 turnovers.