CENTRAL, S.C. – Southern Wesleyan women's basketball couldn't pull out the upset against Belmont Abbey on Saturday in Tysinger Gymnasium. The Warriors fought back from big deficits in each half but ultimately lost 82-69.
SWU trailed by double digits for a big stretch in the first half as the Crusaders pushed the lead out to 15 on four separate occasions between 10:06 and 5:12 left in the half. The lead hit 16 at 43-27 with 4:23 to go before the Warriors made a furious run.
Led by a pair of treys from Kelsey Wheatle the Warriors climbed back within four with a 14-2 run over a 2:45 stretch. Wheatle scored nine of her career-high 12 points in the first half. Two free throws from Briana Grier gave the Crusaders a 47-41 halftime lead.
After a jumper by Kristen Smith early in the second half cut the lead back down to four, the Crusaders went on a 23-6 run over the next eight minutes to open up a 21 point, 70-49, lead. SWU wasn't ready to roll over just yet, fighting back with a 17-4 run of their own to big the lead under double digits at 74-66 with 2:53 to play.
The comeback was too much in the end for the Warriors as they couldn't get any closer. The Crusaders scored eight of the final 11 points of the game.
Bri Seda came off the bench to lead the Warriors with 14 points on 6 of 11 shooting. Add that to Wheatle's 12 and Kristen Smith's nine points and the bench accounted for 38 of the team's 69 points. Overall nine players scored in the game for the Warriors.
Belmont Abbey shot 47.5 percent from the floor including 57.7 percent in the first half. The Warriors shot 33.3 percent overall after a 41.2 percent clip in the first half. SWU connected of 6 of 21 from long range as Brooke Strickland hit a pair to go along with three from Wheatle.
Both teams grabbed 15 offensive rebounds but the Crusaders dominated the glass, pulling in 50 rebounds to only 36 for the home side. The Crusaders also owned the paint, scoring 42 points in the lane while the Warriors managed just 24.
The Warriors made 15 of 23 (65.2 percent) from the free throw line as Belmont Abbey connected at a 76.7 percent clip, making 23 of 30. Briana Grier led the free throw parade for the Crusaders by making 8 of 11. She finished with 15 points. McKenzie Owen led all players with 22 points and 14 rebounds. Gabrielle Bethel added a double-double of her own with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
SWU will take on North Greenville for the first time this year on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in Tysinger.