BELMONT Twice during the regular season, Queens couldn’t beat Belmont Abbey – although the Royals did come close.
Queens had no better luck on its third try, losing to the Crusaders 93-85 in the quarterfinals of the Conference Carolinas tournament Monday night.
The fifth-seeded Royals (15-12) fought back from a seven-point halftime deficit to lead by as many as five points with less than four minutes left, and had the score tied at 79 with less than two minutes remaining before Belmont Abbey pulled away.
“Against us, they’ve made clutch shots in all three games,” Queens head coach Wes Long said. “You’ve got to give them credit for doing that. But when you’ve got two good teams going at it in the postseason, it’s always going to be that way. I would’ve been surprised if it had been any different.”
The fourth-seeded Crusaders now face No. 1 seed Barton – an 80-71 winner over eighth-seeded Coker on Monday – in a tournament semifinal game Thursday. The other semifinal will have second-seeded Limestone – a 96-70 winner over No. 7 seed Mount Olive – play sixth-seeded Erskine, which upset No. 3 seed King (Tenn.) 90-80.
Terrone Sheffey scored a career-high 31 points for Belmont Abbey (20-9), which had three other players finish in double figures to give coach Stephen Miss his second 20-win season and first since 2009.
Tyshawn Good – the NCAA Division II scoring leader at 27.5 points per game – added 21 points, Darryl Durham had 15 and Jay Council 13 for the Crusaders, who shot 50.9 percent from the field (28 of 55) and hit 29-of-31 free throws.
Antonio Stabler scored 28 points, Brandon Nichols added 20, David Mason 13 and Joby Glymph 11 for Queens, which shot 50.8 percent (33-of-65) but made just 17-of-25 from the free throw line.
When it counted, it was Sheffey and Good hitting the shots that allowed Belmont Abbey to put the Royals away.
Tied at 79, Sheffey drilled a 3-pointer off Good’s assist to put the Crusaders ahead. Good followed with a 3-point play, then set up Council for a jumper with 38 seconds remaining to give Belmont Abbey an 87-81 lead.
The Crusaders put the win away by hitting six straight free throws over a 21-second span, pushing their lead to 93-83 – their biggest of the game.