NEWBERRY, SC - The Belmont Abbey women's basketball team opened its season today at Newberry in the Stokes-Trainor Conference Challenge. This tournament is played between members of the South Atlantic Conference and Conference Carolinas.
Senior Morgan Midkiff struck early for the Crusaders, scoring each of the first six points of the game. The Abbey defense also played tough, holding Newberry scoreless for the first 4:19 of the game. Belmont Abbey kept the lead for the first seven minutes of the contest. The last three minutes of the opening quarter saw multiple ties and lead changes. The Crusaders led 17-15 at the end of the period.
Newberry went on a run to open the second, but a number of offensive rebounds by center Taylor Gittings as well as scoring from freshman Chrystal Ezechukwu kept the Abbey within reach. The Crusaders' stubborn defense forced the Wolves into a six-minute drought in which they only scored two points. The defense also did well drawing offensive fouls on the Wolves to create more possessions. At halftime, Newberry led 29-23. Midkiff's 11 points were tied for the game-high in the half, while Ezechukwu's seven rebounds led all players in the period.
Senior Gabrielle Bethel opened up the scoring for Belmont Abbey in the third, narrowing the Newberry margin. She also stayed busy grabbing rebounds and playing defense. The team scored 10 points in the third and trailed 49-33 heading into the final quarter. Forward Marilyn Malphrus scored each of the first three Abbey points in the fourth, giving the team a quick spurt. At the end, Newberry won the contest 69-43 and the Crusaders moved to 0-1.
On the night, Midkiff led the Abbey with 14 points, while Ezechukwu's nine rebounds were tied for a game high. Belmont Abbey converted eight of its 14 free throw opportunities.
The team will face Coker tomorrow at 5 pm in Newberry.