The Belmont Abbey men's basketball team outscored King 44-43 in the second half, getting to within one of King's lead twice, but the Tornado had just enough to outlast the Crusaders 75-71 this evening in Bristol. King improves to 9-8 overall and 6-1 in Conference Carolinas, while the Abbey slips to 6-11 overall and 2-5 in Conference Carolinas.
The Crusaders never led in the game but got to within one point twice, late in the second half, both times on free throws as the Abbey erased an 11 point deficit.
After the first half in which it shot 40 percent and trailed 32-27 after scoring six of the last eight points to whittle a nine point deficit down to five, the Crusaders made 55 percent of their shots (10-18) but King converted 17 of its 26 field goals (65 percent) to hold off a late Abbey rally.
Belmont Abbey trailed 56-45 with 12:03 left and cut that down to one just seven minutes later thanks to an 18-8 run that was fueled mainly by Ryan Conrad, who scored 12 of his game-high 23 points in the flurry. Two Chris Davis free throws with 5:58 left capped the run, which closed the King lead to 64-63.
After King scored on its next possession, two free throws from Darryl Durham again chopped the lead down to one, as Durham's contributions came with 3:57 left.
King answered on the other end, getting a traditional three-point play to extend its cushion back to four at 69-65 with 3:28 left.
Davis kept the Abbey close, as he drained two from the line to close the lead back to a pair, but another and one from King, this one from Malcolm St. Louis with 2:40 left, pushed the lead back to five.
The Abbey fired right back, as Conrad swished a three-pointer to trim the deficit back to a pair, but King counted with a three pointer after an Abbey missed three on its last trip. Logan Lyle's trifecta with 36 seconds left moved the lead to 75-70. Conrad hit the first of two free throws with 15 seconds left to close the scoring, as neither team made a shot in the last 13 seconds.
Conrad led all scorers with 23 points on seven of eight shooting from the floor including five of six from three-point range. He scored 16 in the second half. Davis added 16 while Justin Kuhlman added 13 and Durham chipped in with 11. Belmont Abbey shot 46 percent from the field and made 23-32 from the line to go along with an 8-21 effort from three-point range.