BELMONT, N.C. - It was a battle of two regionally ranked women's basketball teams, but Barton escaped in the last minute with a 62-61 win over Belmont Abbey. The Crusaders are now 16-7 on the year, with a 13-3 conference record. Barton is now 18-6 overall and 13-3 against Conference Carolinas opponents.
The Crusaders struggled to score early, but back-to-back baskets by senior Emry Tsitouris got The Abbey close, and a 3-pointer from Hannah Roney put the Crusaders in front 12-10. Freshman Allie Downing scored the last five Abbey points of the quarter, and Belmont Abbey owned a 20-14 advantage after the first. Tsitouris helped The Abbey build a seven-point lead at the 6:31 mark of the second. The teams went back and forth for the remainder of the half, and the game was tied at 36 at halftime.
The back and forth efforts continued in the third, with neither team able to build a lead bigger than three, until a Taylor Gittings jumper with five seconds left in the quarter put the Crusaders in front 52-48. The Abbey's defensive efforts prevented the Bulldogs from shooting any three-point shots the entire quarter. In the fourth, a layup by Keyanna Spivey notched the game at 59 with 5:28 to play. Then the defense forced Barton into a scoring drought of nearly four minutes. The Bulldogs did not score in the last 1:55 of the game. However, a missed jumper and a turnover b ythe Crusaders in the final minute of play helped Barton escape with the 62-61 win.
On the day, Downing's 17 points were tied for the game's high. She also grabbed 10 rebounds. Tsitouris contributed with a nine-point, seven rebound night.
The Crusaders will travel to Mount Olive on Saturday, February 10. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m.