Belmont Abbey senior forward Darryl Durham scored 22 of his game-high 28 points and pulled down 12 of his 18 rebounds in just 11 minutes on the floor in the second half, but Lees-McRae held off a late Crusaders run to come away with a 75-72 victory this afternoon in Banner Elk. Lees-McRae improves to 7-19 overall and 2-13 in Conference Carolinas, while the Abbey drops to 10-15 overall and 6-9 in league play.
Durham finished with 28 points on 12-20 shooting from the floor and four of nine from the line. He also had 15 rebounds, eight on the offensive end, with thee assists and two steals in just 26 minutes.
In the second half alone, the senior from Atlanta scored 22 points on nine of 13 shooting, pulled down 12 rebounds (seven offensive), handed out ttwo assists and collected one steal in just 11 minutes.
Belmont Abbey shot 40.3 percent (29-72) as Justin Kuhlman finished with 15 points and five rebounds.
The Crusaders led four times in the first half, starting when Durham scored the first points of the game at the 19:27 mark, and for the last time with 5:53 left when Kuhlman capped a 17-6 run with a three-pointer that gave the Abbey a 29-28 lead.
Lees-McRae absorbed the blow and quickly regained its edge by scoring the next 11 unanswered points to move its lead to ten. Baskets from Durham and Kendall Ratliff sliced the deificit back down to six, but Mike Chambers swished a three with 38 ticks left to send the Bobcats into the break with a 42-33 lead.
Belmont Abbey outscored Lees-McRae 39-33 in the final twenty minutes as Durham scored 22 of the 39 points.
The Crusaders trailed by as many as 14, which came at 57-43 with 14:12 to go, but the Abbey fought back and cut the lead down to a pair with 9:03 left. Ryan Conrad scored five of the points, while Justin Kuhlman swished a three-pointer and Durham scored on three layups in the paint.
After the Bobcats pushed their lead to two possessions twice, the Crusaders chopped it to one on a Durham layup with 4:02 left.
That was as close as the Abbey would get, however, as the Bobcats pushed their lead back to six.
The Crusaders did not go away, as two Durham free throws with 1:03 to play pulled the Abbey back to within two at 72-70.
19 seconds later, Chambers moved it to four with a layup. Belmont Abbey's next trip came up empty and the Crusaders were forced to foul.
Darius Smith made the first free throw with 22 seconds left, but missed the second. Kuhlman's three on the other end was off, but Durham grabbed the rebound and made the layup with 12 seconds left to cut the deficit to 75-72.
After a timeout, the Crusaders fouled Smith with 11 seconds left. Smith missed the front end of the one-and-one and Ray Chen grabbed the rebound.
Down by three, the Conrad let fly a three pointer with seven seconds left and missed, but got his own rebound and fed it to Drexler Clark, but his three pointer did not connect as Lees-McRae survived.