Belmont Abbey sophomore guard Morgan Midkiff set a career-high with 29 points and McKenzie Owen added 19 as the Crusaders women's basketball team closed the regular season with a thrilling 83-79 overtime win at Erskine this evening. Belmont Abbey ends the regular season by winning six straight and nine of ten as it improves to 21-7 overall and finishes the conference season with a mark of 15-3. Erskine, which has one game remaining, falls to 13-12 overall and 8-9 in league play.
The Crusaders lock up the second seed in the upcoming Conference Carolinas Tournament, which begins Saturday with the quarterfinal round. Belmont Abbey will host that game against a to-be-determined opponent at the Wheeler Center at 7:00 p.m.
Midkiff, whose previous career-high was 26 in a 94-46 home win over Converse on January 3, 2013, scored 13 of her points and grabbed five of her 11 rebounds in the first half. For the night, she scored 29 points on 10-26 shooting from the floor, including two of nine from three point range. She also made seven of ten from the line. She added 11 rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot.
Owen added 19 points on seven of 10 shooting with seven rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot.
The Crusaders shot 39 percent (26-66) from the floor but made just four of 16 (25 percent) from three point range. They also went to the line 40 times, converting 27 of those, while Erskine went to the line 27 times.
Belmont Abbey led 27-23 at the half but Erskine outscored the Abbey 40-36 in the final 20 minutes to produce a 63-63 stalemate.
The Crusaders never surrendered their lead as the largest margin was 11 points at 58-47 with 7:28 to go.
Erskine clawed back with a 16-4 run over the next seven minutes to tie the game at 63 on a Tara Potter layup with 1:59 left, which turned out to be the final points of regulation.
13 seconds after Potter's basket, Kelsey Long missed a three but the rebound was grabbed by Midkiff, whose jumper was off and rebounded by Erskine.
With 1:20 to go, the Fleet missed two straight jumpers, the last a three point attempt by Rosa Powell with a minute left, but Candace Fox grabbed the rebound.
With 47 seconds to go, the Abbey called timeout. After the stoppage, Midkiff missed a jumper with 21 ticks left. Erskine grabbed the rebound and would call timeout with 14 seconds showing, but the Fleet did not get off a shot as the game went to an extra five minutes.
Erskine scored the first two points of the extra period-representing its first lead since the first half-but the Abbey quickly tied it on an Owen jumper. After Potter missed on the other end, Owen sank a layup to move the Abbey ahead by two.
Both teams traded baskets on the next five possessions of the period until two Midkiff free throws with 2:37 to go moved the Abbey ahead for good.
Powell missed a three on the next Erskine trip, and Mikdiff pushed the lead to four with a jumper, and she increased it to six after grabbing a missed Melisa Foures layup and draining the the jumper while fouled. She missed the free throw, but her efforts gave the Abbey a 77-71 lead with 1:27 to go.
From there, all but two of the points were scored from the free throw line, as the Abbey led by eight twice in the final 48 seconds. Long connected on a pair of free throws and Fox made two more with 22 seconds left to widen the lead back to eight.
Potter closed the scoring with a layup at the 16 second mark.