Belmont Abbey freshman Markel Pollard converted his first nine shots before missing a layup with ten minutes to go to record a career-high 24 points, but Southern Wesleyan scored 19 of the game's final 25 points to pull away in the final two minutes and earn an 82-70 Conference Carolinas victory this evening inside the Wheeler Center. The Warriors, in their first year as an NCAA Division II institution, improve to 2-6 overall and 2-1 in Conference Carolinas, while the Abbey drops to 0-7 overall and 0-3 in league play.
Pollard scored 19 of his points in the first half as he made all seven of his field goal attempts, five coming from three-point range.
The two teams entered the half tied at 37 as the Warriors shot 50 percent from the floor while the Abbey converted 48 percent of its shots.
The Crusaders held the lead midway through the first half and fought back from three seven point deficits to end the half deadlocked with the Warriors, using a 9-3 run in the final 1:55. Pollard drained a three, followed by two Nick Hough free throws and capped off by a Ray Chen three pointer with eight seconds left to knot the contest at 37.
The final 20 minutes was tightly contested until Southern Wesleyan pulled away late, sinking nine free throws in the final 1:40 to move its lead back into double figures.
Drexler Clark, who scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half, gave the Crusaders their last lead at 64-63 with 5:51 to go, but the Warriors scored on each of their next five possessions to surge ahead for good at 73-66 with 2:25 to play.
Pollard finished with 24 points, four rebounds and two assists. Clark added 15 and four assists. Hough and Chen contributed 11 and 10 points, respectively.
The Crusaders shot 38 percent from the floor and converted 12 of 29 from three-point range.