HARTSVILLE, S.C. – The Cobra men’s basketball team picked up its first Conference Carolinas victory of the season on Thursday night with a 72-64 over Belmont Abbey at home. Senior Tom Wright (Sydney, Australia) was the catalyst behind the win, scoring 17 points to lead the Cobras.
In the first half the Cobras held the lead for nearly the entire half and held as much as an 18 point margin on the Crusaders before the Abbey rallied to tie the game at 33 at the end of the half. Down 29-11 with 9:03 left, the Crusaders began to chip away at the Cobras lead, closing the half on a 22-4 run over the final nine minutes to tie the game at 33.
Both teams opened the second half with baskets, as Coker scored first followed by two Abbey jumpers, the second of which gave the Abbey its first lead of the game at 37-36.
28 seconds later, Coker would regain the lead and would build it to as high as five points over the next minute and a half before a 6-2 Abbey run, pushed the Crusaders back ahead at 45-44.
Both teams traded baskets before the Abbey regained the lead again and moved it to as high as three points before Coker cut the lead down to one and then moved ahead on a jumper from Liam Kyle (Cleveland, Ohio) to put the Cobras ahead 52-51 with 8:37 to play.
The Abbey again had an answer, pulling away on a 9-2 run over the next two and a half minutes to go up 61-54 with 5:43 to play. The Crusaders capped the run with another three-pointer, but Coker cancelled that with two three-pointers on consecutive possessions by Jonathon Gardner to slice the Abbey lead to one at 61-60 with 3:39 left.
One minute later, Richard Barbee put the Abbey up by three with a layup, but a Wright three-pointer on Coker's next trip down the floor knotted the game at 63 with 2:20 to play.
Coker would not relinquish the lead again as Wright sank a running layup with 2:00 left to put the Cobras ahead to stay. With 1:05 left Darryl Durham hit the second of two free throws to pull the Abbey within three, but the Cobras sank five of six free throws in the final 44 seconds to pull away with the win.
Coker shot 57.7 percent (26-52) as Wright led all scorers with 17 points, while Kyle finished with a double-double, scoring 16 and grabbing 10 boards. Delonte Doles (Roswell, Ga.) added 15 points to the effort.
Belmont Abbey shot 42.1 percent (24-57) from the floor as Terrone Sheffey led the way with 14 points. Barbee and Tyshawn Good chipped in with 11 apiece.
Coker returns to the floor on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. when they host the Royals of Queens University at the Timberlake-Lawton Gymnasium.