BELMONT, N.C. --- The Belmont Abbey College women's basketball team jumped out to a 37-24 halftime lead and held off a furious second half rally by Lees-McRae College en route to a 64-60 win in Conference Carolinas play on Saturday evening.
Belmont Abbey (8-8, 7-5 CC) posted a field goal percentage of 35.8 percent in the contest, including a 44.4 percent clip in the first half, as Lees-McRae (7-8, 5-7 CC) shot 53.8 percent from the floor over the final 20 minutes to bring its game total to 45.3 percent. The Crusaders edged the Bobcats by a 37-36 margin on the glass, including a 17-13 advantage on the offensive boards, while converting 17 Lees-McRae miscues into 18 points.
Kerri Belcher (Roanoke, Va.) led the way for Lees-McRae with 13 points and a game-high eight rebounds, as Lauren Lewis (Concord, N.C.) chipped in 14 markers. Zukye Smith (Chesterfield, Va.) added 10 markers and six boards, while Layana De Souza (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) posted a team-high five assists to go along with six points and five rebounds.
Kelsey Long paced the Abbey with 23 points on 8-of-15 shooting, knocking down six three-pointers, while Morgan Midkiff added 18 markers. Caitlyn Ranson chipped in 11 points with a 2-for-4 night from beyond the arc, as Candace Fox posted game-highs of seven assists and five steals.
Belmont Abbey got off to a strong start in the first half, taking an early 12-4 lead on a Ranson jumper before pushing the advantage to 20-6 following back-to-back triples by Long with 10:31 left in the half. The Bobcats would battle back, cutting the lead to 23-20 with a 14-3 run that was capped by a trey and a layup from Kabrina Truesdale (Wilmington, N.C.), the latter coming at the 5:41 mark.
The Abbey responded with a 14-4 spurt, closing out the half with a Long triple to head into the intermission with a 37-24 advantage. Lees-McRae answered once again in the second half, opening the period with a 7-3 spurt to close the gap to 40-31 with 15:10 left on a Belcher jumper.
The Bobcats would continue to dictate play over the next ten minutes, cutting the lead further with a 12-5 run to trim the margin to 50-47 following another Belcher jumper at the 5:39 mark. After Ranson answered with a trey with 4:12 to play, the Bobcats countered with a 9-5 spurt, cutting the lead to 58-56 following a Lewis triple with 1:39 left on the clock.
Belmont Abbey would respond with a Long triple, taking a 61-56 lead before the Bobcats countered with a 4-2 spurt, cutting the advantage to one possession at 63-60 with eight seconds left on the clock. The Abbey quelled the rally with a freebie by Fox seconds later, equaling the final margin of 64-60.
Lees-McRae returns to the court on Thursday when the Bobcats travel to Gaffney, S.C. to take on Limestone College in league play at 5:30 p.m.
- LMC -