BANNER ELK, N.C. -- No. 8-seeded Belmont Abbey continued its magical run through the Conference Carolinas Men's Basketball Championship on Saturday with a 60 upset of fifth-seeded Limestone. The Crusaders will face No. 2 seed Lees-McRae tomorrow for the league title and an automatic bid to the NCAA Division II Men's Basketball Championship.
Myron Carmon tallied 17 points -- 13 in the opening half -- while Jacob Wilson and DeQuan Abrom added 15 and 13 points, respectively. Abrom grabbed a team-high eight rebounds. Kenny Hairston of Limestone scored a game-high 21 points, while Donovan Harris posted a double-double of 16 points and 16 boards.
Limestone (13-16) led for much of the first 10 minutes, before Carmon scored seven straight points on his own to turn a 15-12 deficit into a 19-15 advantage at the 6:46 mark. The Saints moved back in front 25-24 at the 2:38 mark, but Carmon hit another three to make the score 27-25 with 30 seconds left in the period. A single Limestone free throw with 11 seconds remaining cut the Crusaders margin to one, 27-26 at the break.
The Saints opened the second half with five straight points as part of a 10-2 run that gave them their biggest advantage of the contest, 36-29. But the Crusaders answered. Wilson hit back-to-back baskets, the latter a three to cut the gap to two, before Deion Lane answered a free throw with a layup that made the score 37-36 with 14:12 to play. Wilson put The Abbey ahead by one with a jumper at 13:25, only to see Limestone counter with a basket of its own just over a minute later to lead for the final time 39-38. From there, Ben Ferguson canned his only basket of the game -- a three-pointer -- and Aidan Richard hit a jumper in the paint to give the Crusaders a four-point edge, 43-39 at the midway point.
Six straight points, all on free throws, pushed the lead to seven, 49-42, but Limestone again closed to one, 49-48, with 5:42 remaining. But Belmont Abbey surged again, as Abrom hit five straight free throws over the next 2:26, sending the lead to six. He answered two straight Limestone baskets with shots of his own, the second giving the Crusaders a two-possession cushion, 58-53 at the one-minute mark. Over the final 43 seconds, Abrom and Lane kept the Saints at bay with a pair of free throws each, sending Belmont Abbey to its first championship game appearance since 2012-13.
Tip off for the championship game is set for 2 p.m. in Banner Elk. Brian Rushing will provide live audio coverage on the Belmont Abbey Sports Network beginning at 1:45 p.m.