Jeremy Zalacca - Director of Athletic Communications
BELMONT, N.C. - The Pfeiffer men's basketball team (23-3, 14-3 CC) broke the program record for highest field goal percentage (66.0 percent) in a single game en route to a 110-101 victory on Wednesday evening. The win sets the stage for a showdown with Limestone in Merner Gym on Saturday with a share of first place on the line.
A.J. Clark exploded for 34 points and shot 11-for-15 from the field and 7-for-10 from long range as Pfeiffer extended its winning streak to 11 games. Mike Smith added 28 points on 10-of-12 shooting and Andrew Guerrero extended his string of consecutive games with a made three pointer to 37 in a row.
The Falcons overcame a 52-45 halftime deficit and scored 65 second half points to come away with the crucial road victory. In the final 20 minutes, Pfeiffer shot 73.1 percent from the field and knocked down 66.7 percent of their 3-point attempts. Smith scored 19 of his 28 points in the second half and was a perfect 7-for-7 from the floor, including converting his only three point attempt of the night.
"They gave us their best punch in the first half," said Smith following the game. "We sat down at halftime and agreed they gave us their best punch and now it was time to swing back and see if they could handle ours."
Pfeiffer trailed by nine with 15:35 to play but quickly erased the deficit with a 9-0 run in 1:48 to even the score at 68. A pair of free throws from Josh Calhoun gave Pfeiffer a 73-72 advantage with just under 12 minutes to play but the Crusaders would reclaim the lead with 11:08 to play.
Brendan Jones' 3-pointer at the 9:56 mark put Pfeiffer up 80-77, a lead they would never relinquish. The lead would swell up to nine points but BAC wouldn't go down easily and cut the lead to five. A dunk by Keith Jumper capped a quick 6-0 spurt for Pfeiffer that pushed the lead to double digits with 5:59 left in regulation. Eventually, the Crusaders would chip the lead back down to four with under four minutes to play but Pfeiffer would tighten up defensively down the stretch and held Belmont Abbey without a field goal for a crucial 4:31 stretch.
"I am very proud of our players," commented Head Coach Jeremy Currier who picked up his 93rd career coaching victory. "Tonight was an important road win for us against a very good Belmont Abbey team. A.J. continues to be exceptional and Mike played his best game of the season. We are thrilled to be finishing out the regular season with two home games."
Now, the Falcons turn their attention to a clash with Limestone who stands in first place in the conference standings and won the first matchup, 109-99 in overtime. Since then, Pfeiffer has reeled off 11 straight victories and look to avenge that January 14th loss.
The Saints are one game ahead of Pfeiffer in the loss column and a win over the Saints would go a long way toward claiming a share of the regular season title and a chance to host the Conference Carolinas Tournament.
"We have the best fans in the league and will need every one of them in Merner Gym on Saturday night," said Currier. "We need our fans to be as loud as they possibly can be."
Tipoff against the Saints is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.