BELMONT, N.C. – The Converse (8-14, 4-10) College basketball team dropped a tough 79-71 decision at the hands of Belmont Abbey on Saturday evening. The Crusaders outscored Converse 39-30 over the middle two quarters to ultimately take the conference win. Brianna James poured in a game-high 25 points and eight rebounds to lead the Purple and Gold.
Paige Johnson joined James as the only other Valkyrie to reach double-figures, pitching in 11 on 5-of-10 from the field. Converse shot just 37.9% (22-58) from the floor, but was able to knock down 80.8% (21-26) from the free throw line. Belmont Abbey held a slight 34-33 advantage on the boards.
The first quarter was heavily contested as both teams matched baskets from the other throughout the majority of the frame. Belmont Abbey led 16-13 with three and half minutes to play in the opening quarter, but back-to-back buckets from Shakori Jennings-Shuler and Johnson staked the visitors to a 1-point lead (17-16). That advantage carried into the second quarter.
Converse came out in the second leading 20-19, but a quick 12-2 run by BAC turned the game in favor of the Crusaders. However, the Valkyries did not let the game get too out of hand, finishing the half on a 9-5 spurt to trail by only five (36-31) going into the break.
Dominique Hill nailed a three-pointer at the 7:57 mark of the third quarter to trim the deficit to 38-36, but Abbey once again used a mini run, this time 7-2, to regain control of the momentum. Converse used a run of its own (6-0) to cut a 48-40 deficit into just a single possession contest with under four minutes of game action remaining in the third period. However, the Crusaders scored 10 of the last 14 points in the quarter to head into the fourth leading 58-50.
That lead grew to 67-55 as BAC opened the fourth on a 9-5 scoring spurt. Emily Tsitorius knocked down a shot at the 4:19 mark to give Abbey its biggest lead (71-57) and from that point it was all academic as both teams struggled to score down the stretch as Belmont Abbey went on to take the contest 79-71.
Converse will be back in action on Tuesday, February 6 as it travels to Franklin Springs, Ga. to take on the Golden Lions of Emmanuel College. Tipoff for that contest is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.