Four Belmont Abbey players reached double figures as the Crusaders women's basketball team never trailed after being down 10-8 and led the rest of the way to upset the nationally 13th-ranked Shaw Bears 75-64 this evening at the Wheeler Center. Belmont Abbey increases its winning streak to four as the record improves to 5-2, while the Bears, which won the NCAA Division II National Championship in 2012, suffers their first loss, falling to 2-1.
Belmont Abbey shot 58 percent in the first half as McKenzie Owen, who earlier in the day was named the Conference Carolinas Player of the Week, scored 16 of her 18 points in the first half, while Morgan Midkiff tallied ten points and seven assists in the opening half. 18 of the Abbey's 21 first half field goals were assisted.
The Crusaders found themselves down 10-6 with 15:05 to play, but they responded with a 12-4 run to seize the lead for good. The run moved the Crusaders ahead 18-14, and the margin grew to 30-21 as Owen scored on three of the next four possessions, with a Midkiff three-pointer mixed in.
Shaw scored the next four points to close the lead to five, but the Abbey countered with a 15-9 run to close the half, as Owen scored eight of those points and Midkiff closed the first half scoring with a long three to send the Crusaders into the half with a 45-34 lead.
The Bears and Crusaders both scored 30 points in the second half, but the Abbey rebuked every Shaw charge, as the Bears closed the lead down to as few as six at 55-49 with 12:05 left. That was answered with a 13-6 Abbey jaunt that extended the cushion to 12 at 67-55 with 6:05 left.
From there, the advantage never dropped below nine and was as high as 12, as Midkiff punctuated the upset with two free throws at the 1:20 mark to provide the final score.
Belmont Abbey shot 47 percent from the field for the game, as Midkiff's 20 points led all players. She sank seven of 20 from the floor and had a game-high eight assists. Owen contributed 18 points on nine of 17 shooting with four rebounds, six steals, an assist and a blocked shot. Melisa Foures and Kelsey Long bot totaled 10 points. Tajanna Brown led the way with seven rebounds.