BRISTOL, Tenn. - Ben Ferguson hit four of his game-high six three-pointers in the first five minutes of the second half, keying a fierce rally that fell short in an 85-67 setback against King Tuesday night in the quarterfinal round of Conference Carolinas Men's Basketball Championship.
Ferguson finished the contest with a team-high 18 points, while Deion Lane earned his sixth double-double of the year with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Gunnar Hardarson and Jacob Wilson also gained double-digit scoring with 12 and 11 points respectively.
Fifth-seeded Belmont Abbey trailed 47-26 at halftime, but opened the second stanza on an 11-0 run to cut the gap to 10, 47-37 with 16:35 to play. The surge continued to 19-4 after a conventional three-point play by Aidan Richard at the 14:31 mark, cutting the deficit to six, 51-45. But King regrouped with six straight points that sent the lead back to double-digits for the remainder of the game.
The Tornado hit 53.4 percent for the contest, compared to 40.0 for Belmont Abbey, and forced 17 turnovers. The Crusaders held a 35-34 rebounding advantage.
King, the No. 4 seed, came out firing at the opening tip, hitting four three-pointers in the first three-and-a-half minutes enroute to an 18-5 lead with 15:10 to play. Jacob Wilson hit a jumper as the Crusaders tried to rally, but the Tornado continued to stay hot. It hit 11 of its first 13 attempts from the field, pushing the margin to 26-10. The Abbey tallied six straight points -- four by Lane -- to cut the gap to 11 by the 11-minute mark. King finished the period outshooting the Crusaders 56.3 percent to 31.0 percent, holding a 47-26 lead.
The Crusaders saw tremendous improvement under first-year Head Coach Billy Taylor, doubling their win total from seven to 14 and returning to the conference tournament after a one-year absence. The contest marked the final game in the careers of seniors Drexler Clark, Tyler Horn, Kendall Ratliff and Sean Moriarty.