The seventh-seeded Limestone Saints never trailed and maintained a double digit lead for most of the game as the Saints defeated the sixth-seeded Belmont Abbey women's basketball team 78-62 this afternoon in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Hickory, North Carolina. Limestone advances to the regional final for the second straight season as it improves to 26-5, while the Abbey ends its season with a mark of 22-9.
Belmont Abbey handed Limestone its only two Conference Carolinas losses of the season, winning in Gaffney 59-53 on January 11 and again 74-64 in Belmont on February 1. The Saints will face the winner of the North Georgia/Armstrong Atlantic game Monday night at 7:00.
Limestone scored the first eight points of the game and never looked back as the Saints took command early. They led 39-22 at the half on the strength of 64 percent shooting from the field, including five of eight from three-point range.
Belmont Abbey outscored Limestone 40-39 in the second half but could not get closer than 14 points to the Saints advantage.
The Crusaders shot 29 percent from the field (17-57) and converted just eight of 26 from three-point range.
In her final game, senior guard Kelsey Long led all scorers with 20 points on six of 12 shooting. All six of her field goals came from three-point land. Senior Candace Fox added ten points and five assists as she finishes her senior year with 178 assists. Senior Melisa Fouresnetted eight points and tied for the game-high with seven rebounds in her final game. Senior Jaterra Hurst pulled down one rebound.
The loss ends a historic 2013-14 season for the Belmont Abbey women's basketball team. The Crusaders finish the year with 22 wins, the most since the 2004-05 season. It finished second in the league standings after being picked to finish fifth. A school record four players-Long, Fox, Morgan Midkiff and McKenzie Owen-were named to the all-conference team. Jason Williams was the first Belmont Abbey women's basketball coach to be named Conference Coach of the Year since 1991 and the first since the program rose to the NCAA Division II level in 1995. The Abbey gained a national vote in the top 25 poll and was ranked as high as sixth in the regional rankings.
Belmont Abbey reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2001-02 season and won a game for the first time since the 1998-99 season, the 93-86 victory over Wingate on Friday.