Belmont Abbey junior forward McKenzie Owen scored 20 of her game-high 25 points in the second half, converting all seven of her field goal attempts, to lead the Crusaders women's basketball team to its fifth-straight victory with a 59-54 road win at Mount Olive this afternoon. The Crusaders improve to 12-5 overall and 6-1 in Conference Carolinas, while Mount Olive falls to 8-7 overall and 3-4 in league play.
The Abbey moves a half game ahead of Limestone atop the conference standings, but the Saints play at Barton tonight.
The Crusaders trailed the Trojans 23-22 in the first half in which Owen scored just five points in 11 minutes after she was charged with two fouls. The Crusaders shot just 31 percent in the opening half, making just nine field goals, but the final 20 minutes was a different story.
Belmont Abbey shot 52 percent in the second half, as Owen scored 20 points on seven of seven shooting from the field and making six of eight from the line. The Crusaders were zero for six beyond the arc, but no Crusader missed more than three shots.
Mount Olive moved out to a 30-26 lead to begin the second half and the Trojans would control the game for the first ten minutes before the Abbey stormed ahead late.
Down 46-39 with 9:10 left, the Crusaders made their move, going on a 15-4 run over the next seven minutes to grab a 54-51 lead with 3:24 to play. Owen scored seven points in the run, including the final two of the flurry that gave the Crusaders the 54-51 lead.
Mount Olive scored just three more points the rest of the way, with its last field goal coming with 17 seconds left. That was the Trojans first made field goal since the 3:30 mark. The Trojans last lead came with 7:27 showing, when an Owen layup closed the Trojans cushion to one at 46-45, but Mount Olive made just three of 15 from the field in the final 8:36.
Despite its shooting woes, the Trojans remained close until the Abbey sealed the game at the free throw line in the final 30 seconds, making five free throws to seal the win.
Belmont Abbey shot 40 percent for the game (22-54) and was just three of 15 from three-point range (20 percent) and 12-18 from the line. Candace Fox set a career-high with 10 assists and also had four rebounds. Owen tallied four rebounds to go along with her 25 points. She finished the game shooting nine of 11 from the field and seven of nine from the line. She has now reached double figures in every game but one this season.