The Belmont Abbey men's basketball team moved to 2-1 on the season as it held off late St. Augustine's run to earn a 61-53 road victory this evening in Emery Gymnasium. The Falcons fall to 3-1 with the loss.
The win equals the Crusaders win total from all of last season as Belmont Abbey moves over the .500 mark for the first time since starting the 2013-14 season 2-0.
The Crusaders largest deficit was just three points, coming at the 9:38 mark of the first half, and led by as many as 16 midway through the second half before the Falcons cut the deficit down to as few as five with under three minutes to go.
Belmont Abbey led 23-17 at the half as the Crusaders closed the period on an 11-4 run over the final 5:58 to take the lead for good and carry a six point advantage into halftime.
The lead rose to as high as 16 points in the second half on the strength of a 12-3 run that increased the Crusaders advantage to 44-28 with 9:09 to play. That flurry came after the hosts trimmed the Abbey's lead down to seven. All three of St. Augustine's points during the Crusaders run came from the free throw line as the Falcons missed four shots and turned the ball over twice.
Down 16, the Falcons offense came alive as they outscored the Crusaders 17-6 to close the Crusaders lead down to just five with 3:10 to play.
Belmont Abbey quickly regained its earlier form, moving the lead back to up to eight twice, the last on two Ray Chen free throws with 38 seconds to play.
Jeremy Saunders connected on a three pointer with 26 ticks left to cut the lead back down to five, but Nick Hough and Deion Lane both sank free throws in the final 19 seconds, with Lane netting the final two points of the game with nine seconds left, to seal the eight point win.
Neither team shot well from the field, as the Abbey connected on 17 of 45 from the floor (37.8 percent) which included a 2-18 output from three point range. St. Augustine's finished with 26 percent shooting (17-65) while outrebounding the Crusaders 51-39.
Lane led the Crusaders with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Chen added 15 points and two assists.
Belmont Abbey is back in action tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. when going on the road to face Chowan.