In a game that featured nine ties and nine lead changes with neither team separated by more than seven points until the last 20 seconds, the Belmont Abbey women's basketball team closed the game on a 15-4 run in the final 3:27 to capture a 74-64 win over the visiting Limestone Saints this evening at the Wheeler Center. The Crusaders, winners of three straight and eight of their last nine, improve to 15-6 overall and 9-2 in league play, while Limestone falls to 13-5 and 8-2 in Conference Carolinas.
The win gives the Abbey a season sweep of the series as the Crusaders take over first place by a half game over the Saints in the league standings. Limestone faces King Monday night, but the Crusaders have the tiebreaker by virtue of the two wins.
The game was evenly played as the two teams were separated by no more than seven points, which came from Limestone at the 9:33 mark with a 21-14 lead.
Limestone regrouped with a trifecta on its next trip and added a layp after an empty Crusaders chance to push its lead to six at 26-20 with 5:58 to play.
1:44 later, Larisa Bishop sank a floating jumper, followed by a Melisa Foures free throw that closed the lead to three, but Limestone again had an answer, converting a traditional three point play to extend the edge back to six at 29-23 with 1:57 left.
Those would be the final Saints points of the period, as the Abbey ended the half on a 6-0 surge, using two free throws from Midkiff, a driving layup from Amari Moreland and capped off by two more Midkiff free throws-the last of her ten points for the half-to send the game into a 29-29 stalemate at the break.
Belmont Abbey outscored Limestone 45-35 in the second half but the game was still in doubt late.
With five minutes left, Limestone held a 60-56 lead, but the Saints would score only four more points the rest of the game, as the Abbey seized control. Both of Limestone's field goals-the last four points-came with under a minute left.
Moreland got the run started with a putback of a missed McKenzie Owen layup. After a missed three pointer from Limestone, Moreland struck again, cutting the Limestone edge to one as she converted a traditional three point play to close Limestone's lead to 60-59 with 4:07 to go.
After another missed three pointer from Limestone, Owen was fouled on the other end and her two free throws with 3:27 left put the Crusaders ahead to stay.
Limestone's next possession again came up empty and the Abbey again took advantage as Tajanna Brown moved the lead to three with a layup, starting an 8-2 Crusaders jaunt that widened the lead to seven at 69-62 with 26 seconds left.
11 seconds later, the Saints converted their final field goal of the game and then called a timeout they didn't have.
Kelsey Long made the two free throws on the ensuing technical foul, and after another Limestone technical foul, Long hit one of two to move the lead to eight at 72-64.
Melisa Foures closed the scoring with two free throws at the 10 second mark to seal the win.
Midkiff led the Crusaders with 14 points on six of 17 shooting from the floor. She also had seven rebounds and two steals. Owen netted 14 points and nine boards to go along with two blocked shots. Candace Fox, the conference leader in assists, added eight more to her haul along wiht five rebounds.
Belmont Abbey shot 35 percent (24-67) from the field and outrebounded Limestone by a 46-38 count.