Trailing 29-25 at the half, the Belmont Abbey men's basketball team outscored Limestone 46-34 in the final 20 minutes behind a torrid 62 percent shooting effort to pull away late and defeat the Saints 71-63 tonight in the Wheeler Center. The win improves the Crusaders record to 6-11 overall and 3-7 in Conference Carolinas, while the Saints drop to 5-12 overall and 3-6 in the league.
After making just ten of 30 shots in the first half, the Crusaders came alive in the final period, sinking 15 of 24 from the field while forcing 10 Limestone turnovers to pull away in last ten minutes.
Beginning the period down four, Belmont Abbey opened the half on a 16-5 run in the first 4:10 to grab the lead for good. The advantage never rose any higher than nine, but the Crusaders turned back the Saints at every opportunity. Limestone cut the lead down to as few as two at 54-52 with 5:33 to play, but a 10-3 burst over the next 3:51, capped off by a Ray Chen three pointer, moved the lead to the highest of the night, nine points, at 64-55 with 1:39 to play.
From there, the Saints never dropped the Abbey's lead down to any fewer than five, as Chen hit six of six from the free throw line in the final 1:03 to seal the eight point victory.
Chen led the Crusaders with 20 points, his third straight game of reaching at least that number, as he converted six of 13 from the floor to go along with six rebounds. Deion Lane posted a double double with 14 points and 11 rebounds, with Markel Pollard adding 12 points. Belmont Abbey shot 46 percent from the field (25-54), including 10-24 from beyond the arc and 11 of 16 from the free throw line.
Tonight's game closed a five game homestand for the Crusaders, who will now play their next four on the road, starting with Saturday's contest at King. Tip-off is slated for 4:00 p.m.