BELMONT, NC - Freshman forward Chrystal Ezechukwu recorded her sixth double-double this evening as the Belmont Abbey women's basketball team earned an 83-68 victory over Erskine in the Wheeler Center. The Crusaders improve their record to 8-7 on the year with a 6-4 conference record. The Flying Fleet dipped to 6-8 on the season and 5-4 against Conference Carolinas opponents.
Ezechukwu scored each of the first seven Belmont Abbey points. After trailing 10-9 with 4:42 in the first, senior Larisa Bishop scored a jumper and the Crusaders did not trail for the rest of the period. At the end of the quarter, the teams were tied at 20. Ezechukwu and Bishop combined to score the first Abbey points of the second, which gave the Crusaders a 27-22 advantage. The stubborn defense by the Crusaders forced Erskine into a 3:34 span in which it only scored one basket. Four Crusader points in the final 1:33 of the second gave Belmont Abbey a 42-35 lead going into halftime.
Ezechukwu again started the period strong, scoring each of the first five Abbey points of the period. Senior Gabrielle Bethel ended the period with four points of her own, as well as two offensive rebounds, in the final 1:06 to help the Crusaders to a 61-58 lead going into the final period. An Erskine bucket at the 6:35 mark made it a 66-64 Belmont Abbey lead. That was the closest Erskine would get the rest of the night. The Abbey defense forced the Flying Fleet into a 4:17 scoreless drought, while Ezechukwu scored five points in a 21-second span, giving the Abbey the 83-68 win.
On the night, Ezechukwu finished with 29 points and 16 rebounds, both game-highs. Bethel also recorded a double-double, her seventh of the season, with 13 points and 12 boards. Bethel and center Taylor Gittings each blocked three Erskine shots. Guards Morgan Midkiff and Taylor Johnson finished with four assists each. The team also made an impressive 24 of 26 free throws.
Belmont Abbey will be back for more action on Saturday when it plays Barton in Wilson, NC.