Tigerville, S.C. - A late run in the second half of Tuesday's Conference Carolinas opener helped spring North Greenville to a 77-58 win over Belmont Abbey College.
The Crusaders earned a 31-23 lead as the two teams headed into the locker room for intermission. North Greenville shot 59 percent from the field in the first half and led by as many as 11. The Crusaders used a balanced offensive attack in the opening 20-minutes as six different players scored at least two points. Daniel Burchette led NGU's offense in the first half with 13 points. Burchette was 3-3 from three-point range.
The Crusaders created some separation midway through the opening period using the strength of an 11-2 run to earn a 23-12 lead. Abbey chipped away and whittled the lead down just six with 2:38 left in the period but five unanswered for NGU would give the Crusaders a 10-point cushion. Belmont Abbey had the last word of the half, as a jumper from Tyler horn would cut the deficit to eight as a half-court shot by North Greenville ricocheted off the backboard.
BAC would open the second half scoring with a basket to cut North Greenville's lead to six. The Crusaders answered with seven consecutive points, including a three pointer from Justin Dotson to take 39-25 advantage. Dotson finished the night with 16-points on five of 13 shooting.
North Greenville saw its double-digit lead dwindle once again as the Crusaders from Belmont Abbey continued to battle. A pull-up jumper from Ray Chen 5:53 left in the contest pulled the Crusaders to within six, making the count 57-51.
NGU saw its lead swell to 18 points just minutes later. The Crusaders received two points from Dotson on a pair of free throws before a layup from McElroy followed by two free throws, the consequence of a Belmont Abbey flagrant foul extended the advantage to 71-53.
Abbey would find a trio of scores late in the game, cutting the lead to 73-58 but time would expire on the visitors as two trips to the charity stripe for McElroy would add four points to the final line for North Greenville.
McElroy would finish the night with 16 points while going six of eight from the free throw line. Burchette led NGU as he scored a career high 20-points as he was perfect from three-point range. NGU had one more rebound than Abbey with 34, but dominated in the lane outscoring the Crusaders 30-18 in the pain. NGU's bench also played a roll in the team's first Conference Carolinas victory, outscoring the Belmont Abbey bench 30-18.
The Crusaders are now 2-2 on the season and 1-0 in Conference Carolinas play. The team will spend its Thanksgiving in Melbourne, Florida as travels to Florida Tech to play in the FIT Classic. NGU's first game will be at 4:30 on Friday afternoon against Georgia Southwestern College.