The Belmont Abbey men's basketball team experienced its first loss of the season as the Coker Cobras scored the last six points of the game in a thrilling second half to claim an 89-85 win this afternoon in the opening round of the UNC Pembroke Classic at the English E. Jones Center. Coker is now 1-0, while the Abbey drops to 2-1.
Belmont Abbey opened the game on a tear, scoring the first eight points on six shots, but Coker scored the next six-straight to close the gap to a pair.
After Belmont Abbey moved out to an 18-9 lead, which was fueled by Ryan Conrad, who scored six of the next ten points.
A Cobras run of 19-10 over the next five minutes allowed Coker to tie the game at 28, but the Crusaders again had an answer, scoring the next eight-straight points while holding the Cobras without a point for the next 1:34. Julian Nelson's basket stopped the Cobras scorless string as it cut the Abbey's lead to 36-30 with 4:43 to play, and both teams scored eight points each in the final four minutes as the Crusaders carried a 44-38 lead into halftime.
The second half was a series of runs, as the Crusaders led by as many as six before Coker cut into the advantage, but as it had all game, the Abbey had an answer before Coker made a run late.
Tied at 67 with 8:43 left, Conrad swished a three-pointer to move the Crusaders ahead by three. That was followed by a pair of Darryl Durham free throws to build the cushion to five.
After a Coker basket on its next possession, Jonathon Garrett converted a short jumper to move the lead back to five with 7:10 left, but the Cobras scored the next five points to pull even at 74 with 5:07 showing.
Both teams then converted baskets on their next posssessions to knot the contest at 76 with 4:29 left, and the teams then traded the lead for the next four possessions. Durham converted a traditional three-point play with 2:20 to go, but Coker sank a layup on its next trip to deadlock the game once again.
Chris Davis gave the Abbey an 85-83 lead with 1:12 to play but the Cobras knotted the game their next possession. The Crusaders next possession came up empty on a missed layup, and Coker moved ahead for good with a successful three-pointer with just five seconds left. An Abbey turnover came next, and after a foul, Julian Nelson made the first of two free throws with one second left to seal the win.
Conrad led all scorers with a career-high 21 points on six of 15 shooting from the field. He also had four assists and three rebounds. Davis added 16, 12 from the free throw line, while Garrett posted a double double with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Durham added 11 and three assists.
The Crusaders shot 45 percent from the floor and made 25-28 from the line.