Photo Courtesy of Gerry Wall
BANNER ELK, N.C. – Put on your dancing shoes Bobcat fans! Your Lees-McRae College men's basketball team is heading to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history after defeating Belmont Abbey College, 75-72, in the Conference Carolinas Championship game Sunday afternoon at Williams Gymnasium.
The Bobcats got things started quickly Sunday as they quickly grew their lead to nine points six minutes into the game. Lees-McRae extended its lead to as many as 12 points thanks to nine three-pointers before the half was out, which was the advantage going into the break, 40-28, Lees-McRae.
Despite being down by double figures at the break, Belmont Abbey would battle back to tie the score at 63-63 with six minutes to go in the second half. After the Crusaders hit a free throw to go ahead 64-63, the Bobcats went on a 9-0 run to vault back ahead of Belmont Abbey, 72-64, with 27 seconds to go. Even with that gap to overcome, BAC made it interesting with a couple last minute three-pointers but the Bobcats held on for the 75-72 victory.
Senior Lepreece Lynch led the Bobcats Sunday with a team-high 17 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the field. Lynch, who was honored after the tournament with the event's Most Outstanding Player award, also grabbed six rebounds in the victory. Quay Kimble scored 14 points with five rebounds, and the duo of Kamil Williams and Jason Saintizaire both chipped in 10. Additionally, Saintizaire and Josh Gaither were recognized postgame in joining Lynch on the All-Tournament team.
The Bobcats, now 23-8 on the season, will head to Harrogate, Tenn. this Saturday for their first-ever NCAA Tournament game. LMC, which was named the No. 7 seed in the region in the selection show Saturday night, will take on No. 2 seed Queens University of Charlotte at 2:30 p.m.