BELMONT, N.C. -- Senior Drexler Clark scored a career-high 29 points and four others tallied double figures, lifting Belmont Abbey to a 94-84 win over Tusculum Wednesday night at the Wheeler Center. Clark hit 10 of 13 shots from the field, including six of eight from three-point range, surpassing his previous best of 20.
Deion Lane and Gunnar Hardarson chipped in 15 points, while Jacob Wilson and Aidan Richard added 13 and 10 points, respectively, as the Crusaders (2-1) won their second straight contest. Three Crusaders grabbed six rebounds, while three players dished out four assists.
Kendall Patterson led Tusculum (2-1) with 27 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
Belmont Abbey scored the first five points of the game and led 8-2 when the Pioneers surged back. They used an 11-2 run to gain their only lead of the contest, 13-10 with 12:47 remaining in the half. Three straight threes -- two by Hardarson with one by Henderson in between -- and a jumper by Richard gave the Crusaders the lead for good at 21-13, although Tusculum did close the gap to one, 36-35 just over a minute before the break. The score was 38-35 at intermission.
The teams traded baskets to start the second half before the Crusaders used an 19-5 run to lead by 17, 59-42, after a Clark three with 13:57 to play. The lead reached 20 at its biggest point, 79-59 and 81-61 around the six-minute mark before the Pioneers tried to rally. They closed to within six four times in the final two minutes, but the Crusaders hit 13 of 16 free throws -- including the last 10 -- over the final 1:23 to preserve the win.
Belmont Abbey held a slight shooting advantage, 46.7 to 46.4 percent, and hit just two more three pointers, but the big difference came at the free throw line. The Crusaders made 26 of 32 overall, compared to just 10 of 14 by the Pioneers.
Belmont Abbey returns to action on Saturday when it travels to Catawba.