In a contest that featured ten ties and 15 lead changes, the homestanding Pfeiffer Falcons outscored Belmont Abbey 10-7 in the final five minutes to seize the lead for good and hold off a late Crusaders surge to earn a 69-68 Conference Carolinas victory this evening in Merner Gym. Pfeiffer improves to 10-10 overall and 7-8 in league play, while the Abbey drops to 1-21 overall and 1-14 in league play.
The two teams were never separated by more than five points as the game was a nip-and-tuck affair throughout.
The Falcons led 36-35 at the half and both teams scored 33 points in the second half as Pfeiffer used one last push in the final five minutes to escape with the victory.
Drexler Clark broke a 59-59 stalemate with a running layup at the 5:24 mark, but that would be the final Crusaders lead of the game.
A.J. Clark swished a three pointer on the next Pfeiffer possession to give the Falcons the lead for good and after the next Crusaders possession came up empty and an ensuing foul, the lead moved to three on an Andrew Guererro free throw.
Pfeiffer extended its lead to five-the highest of the game for either team-at 66-61 on a free throw and a layup, but Nick Hough answered back with a three pointer on the other end to close the deficit to a pair with 2:09 to play.
The Falcons again responded with a bucket toa move the lead back to four with 1:35 to go, and those would be the last points scored until there were eight seconds left. The two teams combined to miss four shots from the field, while Pfeiffer missed four straight free throw attempts to keep the Abbey in the game.
Finally, with eight seconds left, Hough swished two free throws after he was fouled attempting a three pointer. He made the first and the third, which cut the Falcons lead to 68-66.
Needing a stop, the Crusaders got one, as Ray Chen fouled Clark with four seconds left. Clark missed the first but made the second, which made the score 69-66 Pfeiffer.
With two seconds left, Hough was fouled and he made both free throws, but the Falcons were able to run out the clock without the Abbey fouling them to earn the one point victory.
Hough led the Crusaders with 18 points, while Clark added 14. Chen netted 14 and handed out seven assists.
The Crusaders shot 35 percent from the floor but finished 9-27 from three point range and 17-24 from the line.