The Belmont Abbey men's basketball team outscored Limestone 48-39 in the second half after trailing 37-13 with 2:44 to play in the first half, but the Saints closed the game on a 13-2 run after the Abbey gained a 65-64 lead to pull away with a 77-67 victory this evening inside the Wheeler Center. Limestone improves to 4-11 overall and 4-3 in Conference Carolinas, while the Abbey slips to 1-13 overall and 1-6 in league play.
Limestone never trailed in the first half as it opened up its largest lead of the game at 37-13 with 2:44 to go, but Belmont Abbey scored six of the final seven points of the half to chop the lead down to 38-19 at the break.
After shooting just 30 percent from the field in the first half, the Crusaders found their rhythm in the final 20 minutes, shooting 54 percent from the field as they turned a 50-34 deficit into a 55-53 lead in a span of just 5:22.
Freshman Markel Pollard, who scored all of his team-high 17 points in the second half, fueled the run with back-to-back three pointers, the last of which chipped down the Limestone lead to 53-45.
After a Saints turnover, a Deion Lane layup shrunk the gap to 53-47, and after yet another Limestone miscue, Ray Chen scored the next four Abbey points, which pulled the Abbey to within two at 53-51 with 9:09 to play.
Chen gave the Abbey its first lead of the game as he sank three free throws after a Saints personal foul and an ensuing technical charged to the Limestone bench. He swished all three, which gave Belmont Abbey a 55-53 lead with 8:26 to go.
The lead was short lived, as the Saints answered with a 10-3 spurt to retake the lead and moving it to 63-58 with 5:47 to go.
Belmont Abbey again fought back as it scored seven of the game's next eight points to climb back in front 65-64, capped by Pollard's three pointer and layup after a Saints turnover.
Limestone scored on its next possession to retake the lead for good, which started a quick 7-0 spurt to extend the lead to 71-65 with 1:17 to play.
From there, the Crusaders could only get as close as six points as Limestone sank four of six free throws in the final 44 seconds to earn a ten point victory.
Pollard led three Crusaders in double figures with 17 points, all in the second half, as he converted 6-9 from the field, including 5-7 from three point range. Nick Hough added 15 and Chen netted 12.
The Crusaders shot 43 percent from the field and 47 percent from three point range.