Belmont Abbey junior forward Gabrielle Bethel notched her sixth double double of the year with a career-high 30 points and 11 rebounds to pace the Crusaders women's basketball team past Southern Wesleyan 81-78 this evening in Central, South Carolina. Belmont Abbey moves to 5-6 overall and 4-1 in Conference Carolinas, while the Warriors drop to 4-7 overall and 1-4 in the league.
The two teams will meet again in Belmont in eight days.
Tonight's contest featured 10 ties and 17 lead changes as no lead was greater than eight points.
Belmont Abbey led 60-57 after three quarters as Taylor Gittings closed the period with a jumper at the eight second mark to extend the advantage to three entering the final quarter.
Both teams scored 21 points in the final stanza but it was the Crusaders who pulled away late to seal their fourth conference victory in five tries.
After Southern Wesleyan's Noel van Zadelhoff converted a traditional three-point play with 1:15 left to give the Warriors a 78-77 edge, Belmont Abbey scored the final four points of the contest.
On the ensuing Warriors possession, the hosts set up for the final shot until the Crusaders, with fouls to give, were called for one with eight seconds left. Five seconds later, Shelby Gilbert missed a jumper, Bethel grabbed her eleventh and final rebound and fired an outlet pass to Bishop, who was fouled with one second left. She sank both of her free throws to seal the three point victory.
The Crusaders trailed 21-15 after one but rallied with 27 second quarter points to lead 42-41 at the half.
Bethel, whose previous career-high scoring game was 24 points against Coker on November 4, reaches 30 points for the first time as she converted 12-17 from the field and 6-8 from the free throw line. Seven of her 11 rebounds were on the offensive glass.
Gittings added 16 points on 8-14 shooting with six rebounds and two assists, while Alex Busch totaled 14 points, three rebounds and four assists. Bishop added ten points off the bench with seven rebounds and a steal. Briana Grier handed out six assists.
The Crusaders shot an even 50 percent (34-68) from the field and made 5-15 from three-point range while converting 8-13 from the free throw line.
Belmont Abbey will now play its next five games inside the Wheeler Center, starting with Friday afternoon's contest against Erskine. Tip-off is scheduled for 2:00.