BANNER ELK, N.C. - Allie Downing scored 17 points to lead the Crusaders past Lees-McRae in the final game of the regular season. The Crusaders finish the year with a 19-8 overall record, with a 16-4 Conference Carolinas record. The Bobcats are now 10-15 on the season, and 7-12 in conference play.
Senior Emry Tsitouris, in her final regular-season game, scored each of the first four Abbey points. Later, Downing scored five straight for the Crusaders, giving The Abbey a 12-7 lead. A 3-pointer by Downing gave the Crusaders a commanding 23-11 advantage. That remained the score at the end of the opening quarter. The tough Crusader defense only gave up one Lees-McRae field goal over the last five minutes of the period.
Irelynn Davisson got the scoring started in the second. She scored another 3-pointer to put The Abbey in front 31-11. It took more than three minutes for the Bobcats to get their first point of the quarter. Caroline Tomey closed out the period with a 3-point shot, giving Belmont Abbey a 44-24 lead at halftime.
A jump shot by Briana Grier started the Crusaders scoring in the third. The defense continued to play strong, limiting Lees-McRae's scoring chances, and at the end of the third, Belmont Abbey owned a 56-41 advantage. The Crusaders started the fourth by allowing just one Bobcat field goal over the first two minutes. A jumper by Keyanna Spivey put The Abbey in front 64-50 with 5:24 to play. Lees-Mcrae only got one field goal on Belmont Abbey in the final two minutes, and the Crusaders finished off the 72-58 victory.
On the night, Downing led the Crusaders' offensive efforts with 17 points, as well as eight rebounds, two steals, and a blocked shot. Tsitouris had a double-double with 12 points and ten rebounds. Grier grabbed eight boards and handed out six assists.
Belmont Abbey will next play in the first round of the Conference Carolinas Tournament on Monday, February 26 at 7 p.m. in the Wheeler Center. The opponent is still to be determined.