BELMONT, N.C. – An impressive second half by the Converse basketball team came up just short on Wednesday evening as the Valkyries were defeated 91-82 by Belmont Abbey in Conference Carolinas action. Once down by 23 points in the fourth quarter, Converse battled all the way back to trim the deficit to single digits before running out of gas.
Score: Belmont Abbey 91, Converse 82
Records: Belmont Abbey (12-5, 9-1 CC), Converse (6-8, 1-8 CC)
Location: Wheeler Center
INSIDE THE BOXSCORE
- Freshman Ellen Nardella (Myrtle Beach, S.C.) posted a career-high 21 points to lead the Valkyries, including going 5-of-9 from three-point range.
- Senior Abigail Lewis (Savannah, Ga.) chipped in 16 points for the Valkyries with to go along with 6 boards.
- Freshman Priscilla Delaney (Charleston, S.C.) had one of her best games in a Converse uniform, scoring a career-high 10 points, while adding 5 rebounds.
- The Valkyries knocked down 10 threes, setting a new season-high in the loss
- Converse owned the boards, outrebounding the Crusaders 35-27
- The Valkyries shot a season-high 48.3% (29-60) from the field and 82.4% (14-17) from the charity stripe
- The 34 points put up in the fourth quarter by the Purple and Gold was also a season-high
HOW IT HAPPENED
The first three minutes of the game was an offensive struggle for both teams as neither could put points on the board. Lewis finally broke the scoreless tie with a layup and mid-range jumper, staking the Purple and Gold to a 4-0 lead at the initial media stoppage.
Allie Downing put the Crusaders on the board with a close-range shot followed by a three-pointer, sparking a 7-2 burst to give BAC its first lead, 7-6. That lead grew to 10-6 before McMillian sprinted down the court for a basket just as time expired in the opening session.
An 8-2 by the Crusaders to start the second pushed the lead to 18-10, but back-to-back threes from Dominique Hill (Elgin, S.C.) and Ellen Nardella (Myrtle Beach, S.C.) brought the Vals within two points (16-14) with seven minutes to play in the half.
However, Belmont Abbey came back with three consecutive three-point shots to push the Crusaders out to a double-digit lead (27-16). Not wanting the game to get out of hand, Ashley Sides (Gaffney, S.C.) found her stroke from deep, knocking down two from downtown to close the gap to 31-25 with just over four minutes left on the clock.
Unfortunately, Belmont Abbey finished the quarter outscoring Converse 14-6 over the remainder of the quarter and took a 45-31 lead into halftime.
A 6-2 run by Converse opened the second half, cutting the Abbey lead to 47-37 two minutes in. The next four-plus minutes of action was a back-and forth affair as both teams were equal to the task on the offensive end of the floor.
Delaney was crucial for Converse, scoring seven points in the quarter, while helping cut the lead to single digits (55-46) following a three-pointer at the 2:56 mark. However, Abbey went on an 8-2 mini run to end the quarter, taking a 63-48 lead into the final period of play.
Belmont Abbey opened the fourth period scoring 9-of-12 points to take its biggest lead (72-51). Back-to-back threes from Nardella trimmed the gap to 15 (72-57), but BAC kept the foot on the gas, knocking down consecutive deep shots of its own to maintain the large lead.
A three by Allie Downing at the 4:10 point gave Belmont Abbey its biggest lead of the game (80-57), but Converse, behind the hot shooting of Nardella, reeled off an impressive 21-7 run to trail 87-78 with under a minute to play. However, that would be as close as the contest would get as BAC ran the clock out, taking a hard-fought 91-82 win.
Abbey held a double-digit lead the majority of the second half, but when Converse cut it to single digits (55-46), the Crusaders used an 8-2 run to push back out to a comfortable 63-48 advantage.
Converse will be back in action on Saturday, January 19, traveling to Due West, S.C. to face the Flying Fleet of Erskine College. Tip-off for that contest is scheduled for 2 p.m.