Tied at 92 with 48 seconds left, the Belmont Abbey men's basketball team scored six of the game's last nine points, including four free throws in the final six seconds, to hold off Southern Wesleyan 98-95 this evening inside the Wheeler Center. The two teams split the season series as both games were decided by a total of four points.
Tonight's contest featured nine ties and eight lead changes as no lead was greater than ten points. Southern Wesleyan (2-14, 1-7) overcame an early deficit to lead 43-37 at the half on the strength of 58 percent shooting from the field, while the Crusaders converted 41 percent.
The second half was a different story, as Belmont Abbey (5-10, 2-6) outscored the Warriors 61-52 as it shot a torrid 70 percent (19-27) from the field.
Senior guard Ray Chen, who finished with a career-high 29 points, recorded 22 in the second half on six of eight shooting and eight of nine from the free throw line. Nick Hough scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half, while Deion Lane recorded 13 of his 20 in the final 20 minutes before fouling out with three minutes to play.
After Southern Wesleyan tied the game at 71 with 7:19 to play, Belmont Abbey outscored the Warriors 14-8 over the next four minutes to move ahead 85-79 with 3:03 to play.
The Crusaders held their lead until a Southern Wesleyan run cut the lead to 87-86 with 1:51 showing. Desperately needing a basket on its next trip, Belmont Abbey got just that as Ben Ferguson drained a three pointer from the left wing at the 1:32 mark to stretch the lead back to four.
Undeterred, the Warriors scored six of the next eight points to bring the game to a 92-92 stalemate with 48 seconds to play.
30 seconds later, Chen gave Belmont Abbey the lead for good as he sank a running layup while fouled. He missed the free throw, but the layup gave Belmont Abbey a 94-92 lead.
Southern Wesleyan's DJ Dobson was fouled on the ensuing possession, coming with eight seconds left. Down by two, he missed the first free throw but made the second, closing the Abbey lead down to one.
Two seconds later, Chen was fouled and he converted both free throws to increase the lead to 96-93. The Warriors turned the ball over on their next possession and then fouled Hough, who sank the two free throws to effectively seal the win with four seconds left to increase the lead to 98-93.
Southern Wesleyan sank a jumper with tenths of a second left to close the scoring.
Belmont Abbey shot 55 percent (31-56) from the field and 53 percent (14-26) from three point range while converting 22 of 29 from the line.
The Crusaders continue the homestand Saturday afternoon at 4:00 when hosting Barton.