BELMONT, N.C. -- Ben Ferguson scored 21 points, 15 from three-point range, and hit two clutch free throws with three seconds remaining, lifting Belmont Abbey to a key 78-73 men's basketball victory over Lees-McRae Friday night at the Wheeler Center. Four other players topped double figures as the Crusaders (9-10, 5-6) equaled their win total from all of last season just over halfway through the conference schedule.
Deion Lane tallied 15 points, nine rebounds and six assists, while Jacob Wilson added 13 points, four boards and four assists. Drexler Clark and Aidan Richard chipped in 12 points apiece. Lees-McRae (5-14, 4-7) had a trio in double figures, led by Jordan Turner and Rishad Felton with 13 each.
Belmont Abbey led by as many eight points on several occasions in the second half, but each time the Bobcats responded. A 7-0 BAC run turned a 40-39 deficit into a 46-40 lead that soon got stretched into 50-42. The score was 57-49 when Lees-McRae tallied eight points in a row to tie the game at 57-57 with 8:36 to play. Later, Belmont Abbey turned a slim 63-62 lead into another eight-point bulge, after threes by Wilson and Ferguson followed by a Lane free throw. But another 8-0 run tied the game at 70-70 and set up a thrilling final 2:30.
Lane hit a jumper before Clark canned two free throws for a four-point advantage with 31 ticks left, but a Felton three with six seconds left cut the margin to one, 74-73. Ferguson, who miss two free throws eight seconds early, redeemed himself, by hitting two with three seconds left and another pair with 1.5 seconds left to clinch the victory.
Belmont Abbey started on fire, opening leads of 8-2 and 13-4 before the Bobcats used a 9-1 run to close to within one, 14-13 with just under 14 minutes remaining. After two free throws by Aidan Richard, LMC answered with eight straight points to lead by five, 21-16 with 7:35 to play. But The Abbey responded, using a 9-2 run to move back ahead, 29-28, with 2:28 left. Two free throws by Lane pushed the Crusaders to a 33-32 advantage at the break.
The Crusaders hit 51.1 percent from the field compared to Lees-McRae's 39.4 percent and held a 38-30 rebounding lead, but were hampered by 21 turnovers.
Belmont Abbey is home again tomorrow, facing King at 4 p.m.