Belmont Abbey sophomore guard Morgan Midkiff scored 15 of her 21 points in the second half, and junior forward McKenzie Owen reached double figures for the 14th time in 15 games with 16 points and 15 rebounds as the Crusaders women's basketball team earned a key 59-53 win at Limestone this evening. The Crusaders hand Limestone its first conference loss as the Abbey winning streak grows to three with a 10-5 overall record and a 4-1 mark in Conference Carolinas. Limestone falls to 9-4 overall and 4-1 in Conference Carolinas.
The win moves the Abbey into a three-way tie for first place in the league standings, joining Limestone and Barton.
The game started slowly, as both teams combined to make just 16 of 68 field goals in the first half. Belmont Abbey trailed just once in the game, when the Saints scored the first basket of the contest at the 18:40 mark. The score stood at just 8-4 with 10:35 to play, but the Crusaders offense found their rhythm, pulling away on an 18-2 run to grab a 17 point lead, 26-9, with two minutes to play. The 17 point lead was the largest of the game and the lead was 13 at the half after Limestone netted the final four points of the half.
Limestone continuted its momentum to begin the final period, starting the half on a 10-3 run to trim the Abbey lead down to 29-23 with 17:06 left.
The score stayed at 29-23 for the next two minutes, as both teams cold shooting stretches from the first half returned.
Belmont Abbey regained its offensive effectiveness as it moved the lead to 38-30 on three free throws from Owen, coming at the 10:22 mark, but the Saints scored the next five points to climb back into the game at 38-35.
The Crusaders turned away the Saints again, scoring the next five unanswered to again increase their lead back to eight. Less than a minute later, the gap widened to ten after three free throws, but the Saints mounted one final charge.
The Saints erased the ten point deficit down to just one, as Limestone used a 13-5 run to close the margin to one at 53-52 with 1:44 to play. Jasmine Kearse swished four three-pointers in the flurry, which also included a Celestra Warren layup, to get the Saints back into the game. Kearse's last three-pointer of the run, at the 1:44 mark, was the last Saints field goal of the game.
With the lead just one point, Midkiff increased it to three on the Abbey's next possession as she drove the lane and converted a scooping layup with 1:04 left.
Kearse missed a three pointer on the next Saints trip, Melisa Foures grabbed the rebound and Candace Fox was fouled. With 40 seconds left, Fox made the first attempt but missed the second, which gave the Crusaders a 56-52 lead.
From there, Limestone made just one free throw, while the Abbey converted three of four in the final 23 seconds to seal the win.
Midkiff scored 21 points and also had six rebounds and three assists. Owen added 16 points and 15 rebounds, 12 on the defensive end. She also had three steals and an assist.
The Crusaders shot 31 percent (19-60) from the floor and made just two of 17 from beyond the arc, with Midkiff making both.
Limestone shot 24 percent (17-69) from the floor, including 10-30 from three-point range. The Saints made just nine of 16 from the line.