No. 6 Belmont Abbey 93, No. 3 Wingate 86
HICKORY, N.C. - Belmont Abbey College junior forward McKenzie Owen (Burlington, N.C.) had a game-high 25 points, helping the number six seed Crusaders defeat the number three seed Wingate University Bulldogs 93-86 in the first round of the NCAA Division II Southeast Region tournament Friday afternoon in Shuford Memorial Gymnasium on the Lenoir-Rhyne University campus.
With the victory, Belmont Abbey improves to 22-8 overall. The Crusaders will face the Limestone-Clayton State winner Saturday at 4 p.m. Belmont Abbey avenges a 65-53 setback at Wingate Nov. 30. The South Atlantic Conference regular season and tournament champion Bulldogs conclude the 2013-14 season 24-6 overall.
Crusader sophomore guard Morgan Midkiff (Mount Airy, N.C.) had 19 points, while junior guard/forward Caitlyn Ranson(Cary, N.C.) matched her season-high with 18 points. BAC senior guard Kelsey Long (Pilot Mountain, N.C.) contributed 11 points. Senior guard Candace Fox (Thomasville, N.C.) narrowly missed a double-double with nine points and a game-high 12 assists.
For Wingate, sophomore point guard Amber Neely (Charlotte, N.C.) posted a career-high 24 points. Bulldog seniorsJanitsha Williams (Statesville, N.C.) and Kayla Harris (Raleigh, N.C.) added 17 and 15 points, respectively. Sophomore forward Morgan McGee (Durham, N.C.) had 14 points, while freshman guard Shelby Tricoli (Waynesville, N.C.) contributed 11 markers.
Belmont Abbey hit 54.7 percent from the floor (29-of-53), the best shooting night against the Bulldogs this season. Wingate had allowed only one other opponent (Catawba, Nov. 20, 50.9 percent) to shoot over 50 percent from the field this season.
The Crusaders took the lead for good at 55-54, thanks to two Fox free throws with 11:21 to play. Two charity tosses by Owen put the Abbey up 65-56 at the 8:11 mark. A jumper by senior forward Melisa Foures (Kernersville, N.C.) extended the BAC advantage to 76-63 with four minutes left. The 13-point margin was the Crusaders' largest of the contest.
A steal and lay-up by Williams cut the Wingate deficit to 80-74 with 1:44 to play. The Bulldogs would get no closer down the stretch. On the afternoon, Belmont Abbey made 28-of-32 free throws (87.5 percent), including 15-of-18 in the final 2:26. The 28 free throws made are the most for a Wingate opponent this season.
In the first half, Belmont Abbey bolted to a 22-12 lead on an old-fashioned three-point play by Owen with 12:03 to go. Wingate made a 14-2 run to take a 37-34 lead on a Harris coast-to-coast basket with 1:02 left in the opening stanza. Owen made a lay-up (0:55) and Midkiff hit a triple (0:09) to give the Crusaders a 39-37 edge at intermission.
The contest featured seven ties and nine lead changes. Wingate shot 53.6 percent in the first half (15-of-28) and 45.2 percent for the game (33-of-73). The Crusaders hit seven-of-11 three-point field goals (63.6 percent), while the Bulldogs converted eight-of-22 from downtown (36.4 percent). Ranson hit four-of-four triples, while Midkiff hit three-of-five from beyond the arc.
Wingate converted 26 Belmont Abbey turnovers into 32 points. The Crusaders were not as opportunistic, scoring eight points from 18 Bulldog miscues. Wingate held a slight 34-26 edge on points in the paint. Belmont Abbey won the other two specialty statistics categories, holding a 16-12 advantage in second-chance points and a 21-5 bulge in bench points.
Williams and Harris complete their Wingate careers by leading the Bulldogs to their SAC-best 12th appearance in the NCAA Division II national tournament. Both players were named to the Daktronics All-Southeast Region team Thursday. Harris was the MVP of the Food Lion SAC tournament, while Williams was an all-tournament pick. Both student-athletes were All-SAC selections. Williams joined Wingate's 1000-point club in the Bulldogs' first game this season (a 61-39 victory over UNC Pembroke).
No. 8 Armstrong 64, No. 1 Lenoir-Rhyne 56
HICKORY, N.C. - The Lenoir-Rhyne Women's Basketball Team (24-7) saw its season come to an end with a 64-56 setback to Armstrong Atlantic State (20-7) Friday evening in the opening round of the 2014 NCAA Division II Southeast Region Tournament at Shuford Memorial Gymnasium.
Armstrong Atlantic, the eighth seed, will face fourth-seeded North Georgia (23-6) in the regional semifinals on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. North Georgia defeated Columbus State (19-8), the fifth seed, by an 85-83 score in overtime Friday as well.
The Pirates were led by Brigitta Barta (Budapest, Hungary) with a game-high 21 points off the bench while Armstrong Atlantic State limited Lenoir-Rhyne to just 26 percent shooting (19-of-72) in the contest en route to the upset win.
Lenoir-Rhyne junior guard Jazmine Charles (Lexington, N.C.), the Southeast Region Player Of The Year, finished with a team-high 19 points but was the lone player to score in double figures for the Bears. L-R is ranked No. 24 in NCAA Division II and entered the regional tournament as the top seed.
The Pirates also received 14 points from Bryonna Davis (Gary, Ind.) and rallied from an early nine-point deficit to advance to the semifinals.
Armstrong Atlantic State held a 25-22 advantage at halftime and led by as many as 13 points in the second half en route to the win. Mauri Wells (Rome, Ga.) added six points and pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds as the Pirates improved to 11-1 in their last 12 contests.
Junior guard Jenni Gust (Colfax, Wis.) scored eight points as well for the Bears, who shot just 46 percent (11-of-24) from the charity stripe in suffering their second straight loss. Lenoir-Rhyne also put together its eighth consecutive winning season and its 24 victories were the fourth-most in a single year in school history.