By John Fitzgerald
The Belmont Abbey women's basketball squad fell to Converse 74-67 tonightin Spartanburg. The loss brings the Abbey's record to 8-20 on the year, with a 7-15 Conference Carolinas record. Converse improved to 7-19 on the year, with a 6-16 conference record.
Belmont Abbey jumped out to an early lead, but lost it when Converse put together a 7-0 run. The Abbey defense, however, forced the Valkyries into a span of about three and a half minutes in which it only scored one field goal. This pulled the Crusaders to within two. At the end of the first Converse led 18-15.
The Crusaders continued to hang tough in the second as Alex Busch scored each of the first six Crusader points in the period. The Crusaders defense then went 5:01 while only giving up one field goal. During this stretch, the Abbey took a 27-25 lead. Belmont Abbey led at halftime 37-32 for its largest lead of the game up to that point.
Belmont Abbey kept rolling in the third, as Larisa Bishop scored a three-pointer 15 seconds into the quarter, which sparked an 8-3 run to begin the period. A Taylor Johnson layup with 5:20 in the quarter gave the Abbey a strong 52-41 lead. At the end of the period, Converse went on a run, but the Crusaders maintained a 65-53 lead.
The Crusader offense started out cold in the fourth, as it did not score a point through the first four minutes. Nonetheless, the score was tied at 57 when a free throw by Gabrielle Bethel ended the drought. Another free throw by Bethel with 2:41 to play gave the Abbey a 63-62 advantage. From there, the Valkyries put together a 6-0 run to go up by five, and the Crusaders could not recover from the deficit. The game ended in a 74-67 Abbey loss.
On the night, Bishop led the Crusader attack with 15 points and four assists. Briana Grier was the team's assist leader with six. Busch scored a team-high 17 points, while Bethel grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.
The Crusaders will faceoff against Limestone in the first round of the Conference Carolinas Tournament on Monday.