Belmont Abbey senior forward Darryl Durham scored 17 of his 22 points in the second half, which included a six point spurt to begin the stanza, as the Crusaders men's basketball team won its first Conference Carolinas game of the season with a 104-95 win over Lees-McRae this evening at the Wheeler Center. The Crusaders improve to 5-8 overall and 1-2 in Conference Carolinas, while the Bobcats drop to 6-6 overall and 1-1 in league play.
The win is the Abbey's 14th-straight over the Bobcats and 16 of the last 17 in the series.
The Crusaders led 47-40 at the half, closing the period by scoring the final three points on a free throw from Durham and a putback from Kendall Ratliff with 40 seconds left.
Belmont Abbey opened the game converting three of its first four shots, two from long distance, to stake an 8-2 lead and force a Lees-McRae timeout with just 2:01 gone by. The Crusaders trailed just once in the first half, coming at 23-22, but the Crusaders countered by scoring the next seven points to gain breathing room.
The second half began with Durham carrying the Crusaders offense, scoring eight of the Abbey's first 12 points to move the lead from five to 13. Four of the points came on offensive rebounds, and another came when he collected a steal at the top of the key and raced the length of the court and converted a layup to move the Crusaders ahead 59-46 and force a Lees-McRae timeout.
The Bobcats fought back, embarking on a run that gave them a 72-71 lead on a three-pointer by Mike Chambers with 10:26 to go, but a Drexler Clark free throw on the Crusaders next trip down the floor moved the Crusaders back on top, but that was short lived. An Abbey foul gave Chambers three free throws, swishing all three, which gave the Bobcats a 75-74 lead with 9:51 to play, but Lees-McRae would never lead again.
Ryan Conrad gave the Abbey the lead for good with a three-pointer, which was followed by two Durham free throws and a jumper from Jonathon Garrett. The Bobcats pulled two back on a pair of Chambers free throws to shrink the gap to four at 81-77 with 8:24 left, but an 11-5 run, capped off by a three-pointer from Conrad, moved the Crusaders out to a ten point lead at 93-83 with 4:27 showing.
The edge never dropped below seven and the Crusaders hit five of six free throws in the final 1:40 to surpass the 100 point mark for the first time this season.
Durham finished with 22 points on 9-11 shooting, including 7-8 in the second half with eight rebounds and two steals. Conrad added 21 points with three assists. Chris Davis posted 16 and Garrett netted 15 and eight boards. Clark and Justin Kuhlman both contributed ten points each.