BANNER ELK, N.C. --- The Lees-McRae men's basketball built a 23-point lead early in the second half, powered by five players in double figures while staving off a feisty Belmont Abbey squad, 88-80, in Conference Carolinas action Wednesday evening at Williams Gymnasium in Banner Elk, N.C.
The Bobcats (11-9, 6-7 CC) knocked down five three-pointers in each half while the offense shot a silky 51.6% in the first 20 minutes. The Crusaders (1-19, 1-12) were powered by double-doubles from Robbie Sterling and Deion Lane.
Sophomore Donte Falls (Shelby, N.C.) paced LMC with 13 points and eight rebounds.
Coach Steve Hardin's squad sprinted out to a quick 14-5 lead, sparked by a Chad Hicks (Winston-Salem, N.C.) three and a quartet of points from Falls.
Sterling ripped off five consecutive points before a Lane layup made it 18-14 LMC at the 11:58 mark.
Sterling finished with 15 points and 10 boards while Lane amassed 14 points and 12 rebounds.
The Bobcats rode a Keegan Crabtree (Hillsborough, N.C.) triple to an 11-0 run over a 3:59 span.
BAC's Ray Chen was the only Crusader to record a bucket in the final 5:55 of the opening half.
Chen paced all scorers with 23 points and was a perfect 8-of-8 from the charity stripe.
Sophomore Rishad Felton (Hendersonville, N.C.) ripped net on a three as the buzzer sounded to end the first half.
Junior Kendall Isler (Winder, Ga.) used a pair of layups to fuel a blazing LMC offense, whom started the second half on a 9-2 run.
Over 6:26 span, LMC connected on five triples, led by sophomore Darius Malbon (Hickory, N.C.), who had two. Malbon finished with nine points and an assist.
The Crusader defense ratcheted up a notch and held the Bobcats without a field goal for the final 5:56 of play while methodically trimming the lead.
Lane contributed eight points while Chen sunk two free throws to shave the deficit to eight, 84-76.
A poised Bobcat squad swished 11 of their 14 free throws over the final 1:40 to secure their fourth consecutive home win.
LMC welcomes Limestone Saturday, Jan. 31 at 4 p.m. for a CC battle in Williams Gymnasium.