The Belmont Abbey women's basketball team claimed its first win in the Conference Carolinas Tournament since the 2009-10 season as it held off a late North Greenville spurt to win 82-79 this evening inside the Wheeler Center in the quarterfinal round.
The third seeded Crusaders advance to Thursday night's semifinal where they will take on the seventh-seeded Mount Olive Trojans-upset winners over the second seed King Tornado-Thursday night at 7:30 on the campus of top-seed Limestone. North Greenville ends its season with a mark of 12-17 while the Abbey moves to 20-9.
Prior to tonight, the last Abbey's last Conference Carolinas Tournament win came on March 1, 2010, a 75-67 win at Limestone.
It is the programs first back-to-back 20 win seasons since 2000-01 and 2001-02. Both of those teams finished 22-8.
Tonight, Belmont Abbey never trailed as it enjoyed a comfortable double digit lead throughout until the visitors chopped the Abbey's lead down to eight at 69-61 with 5:59 to play. That play started a 10-5 North Greenville run that closed the Abbey's lead down to three at 74-71 with 1:39 to play.
The Abbey countered with four straight free throws, all from Briana Grier, that pushed the lead back to seven with 59 seconds left.
North Greenville did not fold, as it again cut the lead back down to three at 79-76 on an Emily Wampler three pointer and two free throws from Alisha Hope after Grier made one of two from the line.
Hope's free throws came with 25 seconds left, and Grier was fouled on the inbounds pass. She missed the first but made the second, which lifted the Abbey's lead to 80-76 with 24 ticks left.
North Greenville turned the ball over on its next trip as Morgan Midkiff collected the steal. She was fouled and sealed the win with two free throws with ten seconds left.
Wampler swished a three pointer with .02 left to close the lead down to three. North Greenville immediately called a timeout, but Midkiff craded the inbounds pass without pressure as the two tenths ran off the clock.
McKenzie Owen posted a double double with game-highs of 23 points and 11 rebounds. Six of her boards came on the offensive glass. She also blocked five shots and handed out two assists. Midkiff scored 15 points, grabbed seven rebounds, handed out four assists and collected three steals. Grier added 11 points and five assists.
Belmont Abbey shot 42 percent from the floor and made 25 of 34 from the free throw line.