The Belmont Abbey women's basketball team never trailed after being down 9-8 as junior forward McKenzie Owen led three Crusaders in double figures with a game-high 21 points to post an easy 71-45 victory over the visiting King Tornado this evening inside the Wheeler Center on Senior Night. Belmont Abbey earns its fourth-straight win while avenging a 52-49 loss in Bristol on January 21 to improve the record to 19-7 overall and 13-3 in Conference Carolinas, while the Tornado drop to 15-9, 9-7 in league play.
The win clinches a quarterfinal home game in the 2014 Conference Carolinas Tournament, which will be held March 1 at 7:00 p.m. In addition, the Crusaders will be no lower than the two seed.
Belmont Abbey, which is ranked eighth regionally, shot 47 percent from the floor, including 50 percent in the second half to blow the game open. King made just 11 of 31 from the field in the second half and shot 31 percent for the game.
The Crusaders led by as many as 27 in the second half as the Abbey outscored King 39-25 after taking a 32-20 lead into the half.
King led 9-5 on a layup from Alley Sprouse, but the Cruaders took over the game as they embarked on a 20-3 run over the next six minutes to open up a 25-12 lead-capped off by a Kelsey Long three-pointer-to effectively seal the game. The first half lead reached as high as 15 on a traditional three point play from Amari Moreland, which gave the Crusaders a 28-13 edge with 5:26 to go.
Belmont Abbey's lead never dipped into single digits again and never dropped below 13 in the second half. The half began with a 15-4 Abbey run through the first 4:06 to push the lead to 23.
The advantage reached its peak at the 6:07 mark as Owen swished a jumper to widen the lead to 64-37 as the Crusaders won by 26.
Owen sank 21 points on nine of 14 shooting from the field to go along with eight rebounds, two blocked shots and two steals. Long, one of four seniors honored on Senior Night, along with Candace Fox, Jaterra Hurst and Melisa Foures, netted 17 on seven of 11 shooting. Morgan Midkiff added ten points, six rebounds, four assists and one steal. Fox handed out five assists as 19 of the 29 buckets were assisted.