BANNER ELK, N.C. --- Senior Kerri Belcher tallied 17 points and the defense forced 25 turnovers, but the Lees-McRae women's basketball team was unable to overcome a sluggish second half while falling to Conference Carolinas foe Belmont Abbey, 79-64, Wednesday evening at Williams Gymnasium in Banner Elk, N.C.
The Crusaders (12-8, 8-6 CC) used a dominant double-double from McKenzie Owen (27 points, 10 rebounds) while the team shot a sizzling 51.6% from the field in the second half. The Bobcats (5-15, 4-10) notched 12 steals while sophomore Niroska Perez (Asheville, N.C.) connected on four three-point shots.
Freshman Mackenzie Blankenship (Elizabethton, Tenn.) sparked a 16-7 run in the first 6:04 by sinking a three to open play, before slicing to the basket for a layup moments later.
Belcher (Roanoke, Va.) used a layup of her own to stretch the lead to 11, 22-11.
Belcher carried the offense on her shoulders, ripping off 11 consecutive points, but strong play from Owen and Larisa Bishop made it a two-point LMC lead, 33-31.
BAC used a pair of free throws from Morgan Midkiff to cap off a 22-11 run to tie it at the break.
The Crusaders' defense clamped down and held the Bobcats without a point for the first 5:19 of the second half while Gabrielle Bethel recorded six straight points.
Senior Kabrina Truesdale (Wilmington, N.C.) cut to the basket for a layup to snap LMC's scoreless drought at the 10:41 mark.
Truesdale finished with 10 points, eight assists and three steals.
Freshman Autumn Bradshaw (Elizabethton, Tenn.) used two net-ripping threes to shave the deficit to 14, 60-46.
BAC kept LMC at arm's length with strong play from Alexandria Busch and Owen while the offense used a +9 (13-4) advantage from the charity stripe to secure the road win.
The Bobcats took advantage of turnovers by converting them into 20 points.
LMC welcomes Limestone Saturday, Jan. 31 at 2 p.m. for a CC tilt in Williams Gymnasium.