BELMONT, NC - The Belmont Abbey women's basketball team won its conference opener over Barton this evening by a score of 70-67. The Crusaders move to 3-1 on the year with a 1-0 conference record, while Barton dips to 3-3 overall and 0-1 in conference play.
After falling behind early, the Abbey went on a 7-0 run in the first to swing the momentum in its favor. Forward Gabrielle Bethel scored each of the last four Crusader points of the quarter, as the Abbey led 18-13. Center Taylor Gittings scored four points in the opening minute of the second to extend the Abbey lead to nine. By the middle of the quarter, the margin had grown to 12. By halftime the Crusaders owned a 35-29 lead.
In the third, the Crusaders had a flurry of early points, before a tough stretch at the end of the third allowed the Bulldogs to take a lead. The fourth, however, was all Abbey. After Barton built a 60-53 lead, Belmont Abbey went on a 7-0 run to tie the game. The next few minutes were neck-to-neck with a tie at 66 with 1:06 to play. Guard Taylor Johnson made four free throws, while guard Briana Grier made two in the final 13 seconds to seal the 70-67 win.
On the day, freshman forward Chrystal Ezechukwu led the Crusaders with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Bethel contributed with 13 points and eight boards. Senior Morgan Midkiff's five assists tied a game-high.
The Crusaders will next take to the hardwood on Saturday at 4:30pm when it welcomes Converse on Alumni Day.