by Doug Page
MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. – The Barton College men's basketball team gave Ron Lievense his 400th career victory as the head coach of the Bulldogs and 460th overall win after defeating Saint Augustine's University 79-73 on Saturday at Kornegay Arena.
Lievense, who came to Barton after five seasons as the head coach at St. Andrews, guided the Bulldogs to a 22-5 record in 1996-97. In his 22nd season guiding BC, Lievense owns a 400-215 record to go along with a 460-362 overall record. Lievense got his start as a head coach in 1984-85 with Averett University, where he spent three seasons.
The Bulldogs (2-3) won their second-consecutive contest, getting a team-high 20 points from sophomore Michael Boykin. Saint Augustine's (0-4) rallied to cut the deficit to two points late in the contest after trailing by double-digits midway through the second half.
Boykin finished the game 5-of-16 from the field, including an 8-for-8 effort from the free-throw line for Barton, while junior Bobby Stenborg added 15 points for the Bulldogs on 6-of-7 shooting from the floor and a 3-for-4 night at the free-throw line. Freshman Isaiah Reddish tallied a career-high 11 points off the bench for BC, going 7-for-9 at the charity stripe. Junior Zach Grant went 3-of-4 from downtown to finish with nine points while adding six assists for the Bulldogs.
The Falcons were led by a game-high 23 points from Tyre Gathright, who finished 10-of-13 from the field. Kenneth Collins added 19 points, including a 4-for-8 effort from three-point range for SAU, while Rashad George notched 10 points, seven rebounds, and four assists for the Falcons.
Grant started things off offensively for Barton by draining a quick three-pointer and would follow with another trey less than a minute later to make it 6-0. Freshman Blake Burdack joined the party by sinking a three of his own with 16:44 remaining in the half to give BC an 11-5 field.
Trailing 17-12, the Falcons made a push to get themselves back into the game by using a 5-0 run to knot the score at 17-17. Quinton Morrow hit a jumper with 11:45 remaining to pull his team even with the Bulldogs. SAU took their first lead of the contest following a layup by Craig McDaniel with just over nine minutes left to play.
Boykin connected on a three-pointer for Barton to tie the game at 28-28 with 5:04 left on the clock. With the score tied 30-30, sophomore Jeff Gordon hit a jumper to give his team a late lead in the half. The Bulldogs stretched their lead to 35-30 after sophomore Isaiah Buck-Lowman drained a trey with under two minutes to play. SAU tailed the last bucket in the half as Anthony Cadogan hit a layup at the buzzer to trim the BC lead to 38-34 heading into the locker room.
Barton shot 15-of-33 from the field and 5-of-9 from downtown in the half, while the Falcons went 14-of-28 from the field and 4-of-12 from three-point range.
Continuing to look for the three, Grant hit his third shot of the night from behind the arc to give BC a 43-36 lead over the Falcons. Barton pushed the lead to double-digits as Stenborg made a layup to make it 48-38. The Bulldogs took their largest lead of the night with 14:48 remaining as Burdack finished a jump-shot to make it 54-40.
Saint Augustine's rallied following the media timeout to trim the deficit to 54-45 after Collins hit a trio of shots from the free-throw line with 12:40 left on the clock. Buck-Lowman ended the run by SAU, snapping a three-plus minute scoreless drought for BC with a layup to make it 56-45.
The final two minutes would be tense for both benches as SAU trimmed a 69-63 lead for BC to a 69-66 contest. Gathright pulled the Falcons to within three points (71-68) with 1:10 remaining. Gathright continued his offensive pressure for the Falcons by finishing a three-point play after being fouled with 41 seconds left.
Both sides traded layups with under 30 seconds left on the clock to make it a 75-73 contest. BC would hold onto the lead, hitting all four opportunities at the charity stripe to secure the 79-73 victory.
The Bulldogs went 25-of-57 from the field in the contest and 8-of-15 (53.3 percent) from three-point range, while Saint Augustine's went 30-of-56 from the floor and 6-of-19 from downtown. Barton finished the game 21-of-24 from the free-throw line, while the Panthers went 7-of-10. The Bulldogs out-rebounded SAU 30-23 and forced the Falcons into 12 turnovers.
Barton travels to face UNC-Pembroke on Nov. 21 and will open Conference Carolinas play at home against Belmont Abbey College on Nov. 29 at 7:30 p.m. in Wilson, N.C.