by Benny Benton
WILSON, N.C. – The Barton College men's basketball team improved to 4-0 in Conference Carolinas play by downing Lees-McRae College Friday night at Wilson Gymnasium.
Freshman Blake Burdack produced the finest game of his first season with Barton (8-6 overall), recording a career-high 22 points and matching his high of nine rebounds in just 23 minutes of playing time. The 6-8 forward from Melbourne, Australia, went 6-of-6 from the field and 9-of-13 from the line in pacing the Bulldogs.
Barton received contributions from throughout its lineup. Freshman David Campbell more than doubled his season total with a nine-point effort, and nine team members registered seven points or more.
Although the Bulldogs (8-6 overall) never trailed over the final 30 minutes of the game, the Bobcats (8-5, 2-2) proved quite resilient. LMC, the league's fourth-place team entering the contest, trimmed a 12-point first-half deficit to five by intermission, completely erased an early second-half deficit of 11 points to tie the contest, knocked another 11-point deficit with five minutes left down to four, and chopped a nine-point deficit with 55 seconds to play down to four as well.
Providing the fuel for most of those rallies was senior guard Lepreece Lynch, who scored 19 of his game-high 27 points in the second half. Junior Kamil Williams added 22 points and a team-high seven rebounds, and freshman Quay Kimble tossed in 10 points and five assists.
Both teams shot better than 50 percent from the field in the game, both made 10 3-pointers, and both committed 15 turnovers. Barton did enjoy a 37-30 rebounding edge and handed out nine more assists (19-10).
After Lees-McRae erased the 11-point early second-half deficit to tie the contest at 67-all on a Donte Falls layup with 11:27 remaining, Barton used a pair of Gordon free throws, a three-point play by Burdack after an offiensive board and pass from Michael Boykin, and a creative spin move for a layup by Stenborg to move back up 74-68.
Junior Matt Woods scored BC's next eight points, most of them on a pair of 3-pointers, and the Bulldogs led 82-74 with just over eight minutes left.
A 3-pointer by Gordon put Barton back in front by double-digits at 91-80 with 5:22 remaining, but Kimble answered with a 3-pointer of his own on LMC's next possession. Marcus Anderson followed with a dunk, and Josh Gaither added a short jumper to quickly trim the deficit to 91-87 with 4:06 to play.
Gordon stopped the Bobcat run with a 3-pointer, and Boykin drove for a layup to put Barton back in front by eight, 97-89, with 2:19 left.
Lees-McRae began to foul to stop the clock, and free throws by Burdack and Gordon both gave the Bulldogs nine-point leads, the latter with just 55 seconds to go.
Still trailing by eight, Lynch drained a 3-pointer with 41 seconds left to bring the Bobcats within five, 103-98. Burdack added two more free throws for Barton, but Lynch responded again with a deep 3-pointer to pull Lees-McRae within four, 105-101, with 29 seconds remaining.
Down five with the ball, LMC finally missed a shot with 11 seconds left, and Gordon sank two free throws to seal the victory for Barton.
The Bulldogs will have a quick turnaround to their next game, as King University visits Wilson Gymnasium for a 4 p.m. contest tomorrow.