BANNER ELK, NC - The Belmont Abbey women's basketball team earned an 83-77 overtime victory this evening at Lees-McRae College. The win puts the Crusaders at 7-5 on the season and 5-2 in conference play. The Bobcats are now 1-12 on the year, and 1-6 against Conference Carolinas opponents.
The Abbey jumped out to a strong start, scoring ten points in the first three and a half minutes. At the end of the period, the teams were tied at 14. The Crusaders fell behind by four points early in the second, but then went on a 13-0 run over the course of nearly seven minutes to take a 27-18 lead. Forwards Gabrielle Bethel and Marilyn Malphrus each scored four points during the run. The tough Crusaders only gave up nine Bobcat points in the period, as they owned a 34-25 lead going into halftime.
The third quarter was mostly neck-to-neck, with neither team giving up a big lead. The biggest Crusader lead of the quarter was eight, when they had a 46-38 advantage. Lees-McRae pulled within two in the last 1:15 of the quarter. Belmont Abbey, however, went on a 5-0 run to end the period with a 56-49 lead. The Crusaders turned it into a 9-0 run by scoring each of the first four points of the fourth for a commanding 61-49 lead. A Belmont Abbey scoring drought lowered the Abbey margin to three before the team started to pull away again. Senior Larisa Bishop made a layup at the 1:39 mark to keep the Abbey up by five. A Lees-McRae three-pointer with 15 seconds remaining, however, tied the game at 70 and forced overtime.
In the overtime period, the Abbey went on a 5-0 run to take a 75-72 lead, capped by a layup from freshman Chrystal Ezechukwu. Bethel scored seven points in the extra period, highlighted by a jumper with 25 seconds as the Crusaders won the contest 83-77.
On the day, Bethel and Ezechukwu led the Abbey with 19 points each. Ezechukwu grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds, while Bethel was right behind with 13. Bethel also recorded an impressive four steals. Point guard Alexius Hampton dished out a game-high six assists.
The Crusaders will be back for more action on Wednesday night at 7pm, when they visit Converse.