Belmont Abbey senior forward McKenzie Owen scored 20 of her game-high 26 points in the second half and senior Amari Moreland added a career-high 13 points as the Crusaders women's basketball team shot 53 percent in the final minutes to overcome a 31-29 halftime deficit to defeat King 69-59 this afternoon in a key Conference Carolinas matchup.
The Crusaders, which has won ten of the last 11 games, improves to 18-9 overall and 14-7 in Conference Carolinas, while the Tornado, which entered the week ranked eighth in the NCAA Southeast Regional poll, fall to 19-8 overall and 14-7 in the league. The two teams are tied for second in the league standings with one game to play as the season series is split, with each team winning on the home floor.
Owen scored 16 of her points in the final 10:22, including the capper with 20 seconds left.
Belmont Abbey led for most of the first half, with the highest lead of the game coming at 20-8 with 9:52 to go in the first, until the Tornado used a late run to take a 31-29 lead into the break.
King shot just 25 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes, but it converted all seven free throws and turned the ball over just three times, compared to 11 for the Abbey.
The second half was all Belmont Abbey, however, as Owen came alive in the final 20 minutes, scoring 20 points while playing most of the way with four fouls. After scoring just six points in the first half, Owen erupted for 20 in the second on 9-11 shooting from the field in18 minutes.
The Tornado opened the scoring in the second half with a three pointer, which extended the lead to five-King's largest advantage of the game-before Belmont Abbey took over.
A 9-0 Crusaders run gave the Abbey the lead for good, which swelled to as high as ten on two Morgan Midkiff free throws with 7:07 to play.
King closed to as few as five at 63-58 with 3:15 to go, but the Abbey-Owen in particular-put the game out of reach as the senior forward scored the final six points of the game. Owen scored 16 of her points in the final 10:22, and she capped the victory on a driving layup with 20 seconds left.
The Crusaders shot an even 50 percent from the field (28-56) as Owen led three Crusaders in double figures. Moreland, whose previous career-best was 10 points, netted 13 this afternoon, nine in the first half. Midkiff added 11 points and five assists, while Briana Grier finished with six points, six rebounds and five assists. Caitlyn Ranson pulled down a career-best nine rebounds while handing out four assists.
Belmont Abbey closes out the regular season Tuesday night at 5:30 when it welcomes Pfeiffer.