Trailing 67-54 entering the fourth quarter, the Belmont Abbey women's basketball team outscored North Greenville 19-6 in the fourth quarter to force overtime, then outpaced the hosts 14-8 in the final five minutes to earn an 87-81 overtime victory this evening in Tigerville. Belmont Abbey is now 2-3 overall and 1-0 in Conference Carolinas, while North Greenville drops to 1-3 overall and 0-1 in Conference Carolinas.
Four of five Belmont Abbey starters reached double figures as freshman Taylor Johnson eclipsed her career-high for the third-straight game with 21 points. Taylor Gittings added a career-high 20. Briana Grier notched a career-high 18 points, six rebounds and six assists and Gabrielle Bethel added 14 points and 12 rebounds.
North Greenville led 45-36 at the half and 67-54 after three quarters before Belmont Abbey stormed back to force overtime, outscoring the hosts 19-6, capped off by Bethel's jumper with eight seconds left to bring the game to a 73-73 stalemate after 40 minutes of play.
The Crusaders cut the lead down to two at 71-69 as Bethel made the first of two free throws with 1:55 to play.
North Greenville stretched the lead back to four on its ensuing possession, which turned out to be the hosts final points of regulation.
Gittings immediately cut the lead back down to a pair on the next Abbey trip. Both teams missed shots on their next possessions, setting up Belmont Abbey to tie the game at 73.
With 29 seconds left, Gittings grabbed a missed North Greenville shot. 19 seconds later, Grier missed a running layup, but Bethel grabbed the rebound and stuck the layup with eight seconds left to knot the game at 73, the contest's first tie since 2-2 at the 9:12 mark of the first quarter.
North Greenville had one final chance to win the game, but Cameron Carter's three pointer at the buzzer was off the mark, sending the game into overtime.
The overtime period saw Belmont Abbey score 14 of the period's 22 points to pull away.
Gittings gave the Crusaders the lead with a free throw, followed by two more from Bethel with 4:42 left that upped the Belmont Abbey lead to 76-73.
North Greenville fired right back with three straight to knot the game at 76, then the two teams exchanged leads for the next two minutes, with Carter giving North Greenville its final lead of the game at 81-80 with 1:49 to go, but the Abbey pulled away late.
On Belmont Abbey's next trip, Gittings swished a jumper at the 1:34 mark to give the Crusaders the lead for good.
After a North Greenville missed jumper and foul, Bethel hit both free throws with 1:21 to play to move the lead back to three at 84-81.
Those were the final points until there were 17 seconds left, as North Greenville missed three consecutive shots.
Leading 84-81 with 17 ticks left, Grier moved the advantage to five with two free throws.
North Greenville, which missed its last six shots of the game, came up empty on its next trip. Larisa Bishop grabbed the rebound, was fouled immediately, then made one of two free throws to close the scoring with ten seconds to play.
Belmont Abbey shot 40 percent from the floor and made four of 12 from three point range. The Crusaders went to the line 42 times, converting 29 of those.
The Crusaders are now off for eight days as they return to the court Wednesday, December 2 at Lees-McRae.