The Belmont Abbey women's basketball season came to a close tonight as Mount Olive scored the final four points of the game to break a 52-52 tie with 1:16 to play to defeat the Crusaders 55-52 in the semifinal round of the Conference Carolinas Tournament in Gaffney, South Carolina. Seventh seeded Mount Olive advances to Friday night's championship game against Limestone with a record of 14-16, while the third seeded Crusaders end their season with a mark of 20-10.
Mount Olive held the largest lead of the game at nine points at 26-17 with 6:16 to go in the first, but the Abbey closed the half on a 13-4 run to bring the contest to a 30-30 tie at the break.
Senior forward McKenzie Owen, who earlier in the day was honored as the Conference Carolinas Player of the Year, netted 16 first half points on 6-11 shooting from the field. Neither team shot well in the first half, as the Crusaders shot 33 percent while the Trojans converted 39 percent.
The second half was evenly played until the Trojans moved ahead in the final minute. Mount Olive led by no more than six points at 44-38 until the Abbey climbed back in front 47-46 after it embarked on a 9-2 run, capped off by a Morgan Midkiff three pointer with 3:59 to play.
That would be the Abbey's last lead of the game as Mount Olive knocked down a three pointer on its next possession to move back in front by two. Midkiff answered on the next Crusaders trip to tie the game at 49, but Mount Olive scored the next three points to go back in the lead at 52-49 with 2:09 left.
Midkiff answered again, swishing a trifecta with 1:16 left to tie the game for the eighth and final time.
17 seconds later, on their next possession, the Trojans moved back ahead for good on an Arieal Johnson layup.
After a Crusaders timeout, the Abbey missed a jumper with 40 seconds left and Mount Olive grabbed the rebound and the Crusaders fouled immediately.
Mount Olive missed both free throws, however, as Tajanna Brown grabbed the rebound. With 17 seconds left, Caitlyn Ranson missed a three pointer, but Gabrielle Bethel grabbed the offensive rebound. With 11 seconds left, Ranson tried again from distance, but again it missed the mark, and the clock ran down to three seconds before the Crusaders fouled Ty Wallace.
Wallace made the first but missed the second. Ranson grabbed the rebound but was unable to get the shot off as Mount Olive earned the three point victory.
In her final game, Owen led all scorers with 23 points on 9-17 shooting with seven rebounds, one assist, one steal and a blocked shot. Midkiff added 17 points, five rebounds, three assists and a steal.
Seniors Ranson and Amari Moreland each finished with three points, while fellow senior Brown grabbed eight rebounds and collected one steal. Ranson added six rebounds, one assist and one steal, while Moreland added three rebounds and a steal.
Belmont Abbey shot 32 percent from the field but made just 4-16 from three point range and 10-16 from the line.