BELMONT, N.C. – Coming off a tough defeat to the third-ranked team in the country, the King University women's basketball team had to take to the road to face a Belmont Abbey College in a key Conference Carolinas tilt. The Tornado fell behind, but came back to take a two point lead at halftime. However, the Crusaders used a run early in the first half to take the lead, and they never looked back to take the 69-59 victory.
Over the first 10 minutes of the contest, Belmont Abbey (18-9, 14-7 CC) controlled the tempo, earning a 20-8 advantage. However, Amy Van Deventer hit four free throws out of the break, trying to spark the King offense.
The Crusaders again led by 11, 25-14 before Whitney Mitchell drilled a three-point basket and jump shot to pull King within six. Chelsea Bowling followed with a triple before Jalan Harper capped the 10-0 run with a pair of free throws to make the score 25-24 with four minutes left in the half. Following a Mitchell layup, Tia Keitt gave King (19-8, 14-7 CC) their first lead of the game at 29-27 with her lone triple of the contest. Arnelle Collins extended the lead to four with a layup before the Crusaders made a pair of free throws to make the halftime score 31-29 at halftime.
Bonnie Durrett opened the second half with a triple, extending the King lead to 34-29, their largest of the contest before Belmont Abbey went on a run. The Crusaders scored the next nine points, regaining the lead at 38-34 with 16 minutes remaining before Van Deventer ended the spurt with a bucket for the Tornado.
Harper followed Van Deventer's layup with a three-point basket, pulling King within 40-39 with 15 minutes remaining. King again trailed by two with 13 minutes remaining before the Crusaders scored five straight points, opening up a 49-42 lead with 10 minutes remaining.
Over the final 10 minutes, the Crusaders extended their lead to 10 points, but King came back to get within 63-58 with three minutes left, but couldn't get any closer as Belmont Abbey took the contest 69-59.
The Crusaders posted a field goal percentage of 50.0 percent, the best by a King opponent this year. They also shot 31.3 percent from three-point range. On the other side, the Tornado shot 25.4 percent from the floor and 20.6 percent from long range.
Mitchell led King with 16 points while Van Deventer followed with 12 points and eight rebounds. Collins chipped in with nine points.
For Belmont Abbey, McKenzie Owen posted 26 points on 12-for-15 shooting from the floor to go along with eight rebounds.
With the loss, King falls into a three-way tie for second place in the Conference Carolinas standings with Belmont Abbey and Erskine College with one game to play. King wraps up the regular season on Tuesday when they host rival Lees-McRae College at 5:30 p.m. in the Student Center Complex.