by Benny Benton
WILSON, N.C. – Barton College rolled out to a 20-point first-half lead, nearly gave it all away midway through the second half, then regained it with a late burst in a 106-87 non-conference victory over Elizabeth City State University Tuesday night at Wilson Gymnasium.
Freshman Isaiah Buck-Lowman improved upon his career-high for the second straight outing, following up Saturday night's 22-point effort in a big conference win at King University with 24 points against the Vikings. The 6-6 forward from Woodbridge, Va., made 7-of-14 attempts from the floor, including a pair of 3-pointers, and 8-of-10 shots from the foul line in helping the Bulldogs reach triple-digits for the second straight outing.
Four other players hit double-figures for Barton (5-3), which has now won three straight games. Sophomore Matt Woods scored 17 points, senior R.J. Claypool added 16 points, freshman Michael Boykin contributed 15 points and freshman Miguel Brown tossed in 11 points.
Brown also recorded his first collegiate double-double by collecting a game-high 12 rebounds. Boykin chipped in five assists and a pair of blocks to go with his scoring night, and Claypool also handed out five assists. Woods had a perfect shooting night in his 17-point effort, making all six shots from the field, including four 3-pointers, and his only free throw.
Elizabeth City State (1-6) was led by senior guard Elon Edwards, who poured in 22 points, all in the second half. Edwards also dished out five assists. Tioreon Land added 15 points for the Vikings and John Maynor fired in 11 points.
Playing its first home game in nearly a month, Barton came out of the gate strong, scoring the contest's first five points and surging to a quick 10-2 advantage after five straight points from Buck-Lowman. The BC lead reached double-digits at 16-6 on a layup by Claypool with 13:16 still remaining in the half, and grew to 20 points at 53-33 following a jumper by Boykin with 1:53 to play in the period.
The Bulldogs shot 56 percent from the field in the first half, including a nearly equal percentage (55) from 3-point range (6-of-11). Barton was also 9-of-10 from the foul line in the period, and took a seemingly comfortable 55-39 lead into intermission.
However, the Vikings fought back with a 10-4 run to open the second half, making their first five attempts and six of their first seven in cutting the Barton lead back to just eight at 59-51 with 16:19 still remaining.
The margin was still eight with 14:32 left when Woods scored six straight points for Barton, and the Bulldogs maintained a double-digit lead again for much of the next three minutes.
A pair of Buck-Lowman free throws with 10:12 remaining gave BC a 12-point cushion at 78-66, but the Bulldogs had a pair of turnovers, a missed free throw and a missed shot in their next four possessions, cracking open the door for Elizabeth City State.
The Vikings took advantage by going on a 9-1 run, which was capped by a Clayton Cowell layup that cut Barton's lead to just four at 79-75 with 7:28 still to play.
However, Woods drained a 3-pointer from the corner off an assist from Boykin on BC's next possession to give the Bulldogs some cushion. ECSU missed two shots on its next possession, fouling Tyler Thayer after the second miss, and Thayer made two free throws to push the margin back to nine.
Edwards, who was 9-of-16 from the floor in the second half, suffered one of his few misses on the Vikings' next possession, and Buck-Lowman made two free throws for Barton on the other end, putting BC back into a double-digit lead.
An Edwards jumper got ECSU back within nine one final time, but the Bulldogs went on a 6-0 run from there to put the game away. The Barton lead, which had been down to just four with 7:28 to go, grew back to as many as 21 following two free throws by Darius Coleman with 1:19 remaining.
The Bulldogs shot 81 percent from the line on the night, making 29-of-36 attempts, while the Vikings were just 8-of-12 (67 percent). Barton also out-rebounded the bigger ECSU squad 40-32.
Barton will return to action on Saturday when it hosts UNC Pembroke in a 4 p.m. non-conference matchup. The Braves, currently 5-1, are ranked No. 6 in the latest D2SIDA Southeast Region poll.